WEST VALLEY CITY — This year at the Easter Vigil, 334 new members of the Catholic Church in Utah will be welcomed: last month, 227 catechumens and 107 candidates underwent the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of the Madeleine during three celebrations.
Alec Serrano is one of those catechumens.
Alec’s journey into the faith started last August, when he decided to entered the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) program, at Saints. Peter and Paul Parish in West Valley City.
“I had been exposed to religion, and my dad introduced me to the Catholic Church, but my mom thought it would be a good idea to wait until I was older to have a better idea of what I wanted,” he said.
So for 17 years he had no faith formation. Then something in him started calling.
“Since last year we have been looking at churches, seeing what I like,” he said, adding that he approached the Buddhist, Baptist and Catholic churches.
“Since the beginning, I was very drawn to the Catholic Church. It seemed so familiar and so right for me,” he said.
After starting the RCIA program, Alec said that he felt he was becoming a better and more down-to-earth person.
“It just makes me feel better as a person,” he said. “With the classes, I got a better understanding of what the Church does, and I was able to understand the readings more, and the Gospel. In a way I felt I understood myself better.”
He is grateful to his parents, especially to his mother, for being supportive of his choice.
“She is not religious but she is supporting me. ... She knows that is something that I wanted and she has been supporting me along the way,” he said. “The Catholic Church has really grown in me.”
As part of his transformation, Alec said that, besides feeling that he had become a better person, he has learned to be more forgiving and accepting.
“What the Catholic faith has also taught me is that I am not here to judge. … We all have to be more accepting and forgiving, not judging,” he said.
He is looking forward to entering into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, which this year will be celebrated on April 20.
“Through this Lent I have been going to Mass and just kind of keeping the Catholic values close to me and accepting our differences and embracing them,” he said.
By means of the processes described in the RCIA program, non-baptized persons who are interested become catechumens, then full members of the Catholic Church through Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist, which are known as the Sacraments of Initiation.
Those adults who were baptized as infants either as Roman Catholic or as members of another Christian community but did not receive further catechetical formation or the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist are referred to as Candidates. After preparation through RCIA, Candidates receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and Holy Communion.