SALT LAKE CITY — “Sacraments have a visible and an invisible reality, a reality open to all the human senses but grasped in its God-given depths with the eyes of faith,” states the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops web page, and for St. Ann parishioners Juan and Sarahi Medina, that couldn’t be more true.
Sarahi is a full member of the Church – she was baptized, received her First Communion and was confirmed many years ago – but Juan never received the sacraments.
The couple decided to form a family 21 years ago. As time passed, they had children. Both parents attended Mass with their children, but Juan always felt like a piece of him was missing.
“We used to go to Mass and we didn’t even think about the fact that I have no sacraments, and we were not married. … We were happy, but something in me felt weird,” he said.
Then one day last year, before the COVID-19 pandemic broke loose in Utah, the Medinas heard an invitation to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes at St. Ann Parish. Without even thinking about it, that same day they went to see about attending.
“As I listened to the words in the class, I just felt peace in my heart,” Juan said. “I was at the right place.”
From that moment, his life took a turn for the better, he said.
“We realized that we wanted to be closer to God, we wanted to get married, and I wanted my kids to have our example,” he said.
Besides making him feel closer to God and to his family, the RCIA classes have made him stronger and more capable of dealing with life circumstances, he said.
“Last year my mom passed away, and even though it was a hard time for me, I was able to hold onto my [Catholic] faith, and I took it in a very different way than I would have if I didn’t have God in my life as I do now,” Juan said.
The RCIA classes have also helped him to deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite all the storm, God has kept me firm and able to deal with whatever life has thrown our way,” he said. “I had a conversion and now I know that with God in our lives, with his love, with his mercy, everything will always be OK.”
Juan will receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil, and he could not be more excited.
“Having God present in our daily lives, getting to know him better through study, is really important,” he said. “Sometimes people (including myself) believe that we can do everything by ourselves, but without God we are nothing.”
He suggests people get closer to God, to have him present in their daily lives, “for yourselves, for your family, for our younger generations; now more than ever we need God.”