Going Catholic, part 6

This is the last post in my series, and it’s airing almost two years to the day from when I first visited St. Mary’s.

Traditionally, converts come into the church at the Great Vigil of Easter service, held on the night before Easter Sunday.

My friend, Deidra, told me to “pay close attention.” So the first thing I noticed was an insect struggling on the floor while the kneeler was still up. The insect had wings. It belonged outside.

After they extinguished the lights in the church, we went out to the courtyard to light the Easter fire. St. Mary’s is next door to Altdorf, a restaurant and bar, and the band was playing, “My Way.”

I can’t make this stuff up. A struggling insect and a Frank Sinatra standard.

As we were walking back in, I caught my son’s eye, and he said he wanted to sit with me. I was shocked because he was not looking forward to a two-and-a-half hour church service.

This was my third night in a row at church. I’d cried all through the Maundy Thursday service and through much of the Good Friday service. That night I was dry-eyed. Clear-headed. At rest.

There was a long prayer sung by Father Enda. Then the readings — lovely, but they skipped Ezekiel and the dry bones. I love that one!

The homily was super short. He asked us to consider where we are encountering a stone that seems impossible to move, especially a stone of fear or worry. Father Enda reminded us that the women didn’t need to move the stone; the Lord took care of that.

Then, the baptisms. All Latino boys and girls, dressed in white. White dresses for the girls, white dress shirts and white pants for the boys.

Finally, it was time for me and the other boring, adult confirmands. I was the first one to be anointed with oil. I had been warned, “Do not wear your best shirt,” and that was good advice because Father Enda did spill a little on it.

They had said something about a marriage, too, and I looked around for a bride. I was shocked when a husband and wife from our group stepped out and renewed their vows, right then and there. Father Enda said, “In sickness and in health? And breakfast in bed every morning?” Their daughter, who is my son’s age, was also being confirmed, and she was just standing there in her black shirt, jeans, sandals and blue toenail polish, with tears running down her cheeks. I don’t think she knew they were going to renew their vows.

From then, we zipped on through the rest of Mass. I had been told that Father Enda would serve us, but he stepped aside. I was actually the first one to go forward because of where I was sitting. My sponsor, the sweet woman who talked me down that night at RCIA, was one of the servers. I asked her with my eyes, “Can I go to you?” and she nodded. I can’t think of any person I would rather have my first communion with than with her.

And it was done. The recessional was “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee,” sung as multiple “alleluias.” It’s my husband’s favorite hymn. It’s also the same song we had as the recessional at our wedding.

What shocked me was the love and support. Before the service, my daughter Googled “Catholic symbols for dummies” and made a card, and she also gave me a Catholic bracelet she randomly found in her locker. I had emails from family and friends. My dad came. After the service, a woman handed me a card with a booklet of prayers.

A few months later, Father Enda asked me if I was going to help with RCIA this year.

“Oh, no. They don’t want me,” I said.

“And why not?” he asked.

“Because I’m not exactly 100 percent on everything.”

He laughed—this man who has been a priest for 50 years—and said, “You think I am?”

Yep. I’m home.

Comments

  1. This one left me in tears. I’m so happy for you!

  2. I loved this whole series – the story as well as the telling. Beautiful and inspiring.

  3. Father Enda? Love him.

    Megan Willome? Love her. Lots.

  4. Nicely done, Megan. Here’s a link to my companion piece. http://johnwillome.wordpress.com

  5. I have read all 6 of Megan’s post as I have yours, but I have failed to reply to any; frankly because while I enjoy them all so much and feel so moved by them, they leave me feeling inadequate to express my feelings. However, after reading Megan’s earlier and yours just now I have this to say
    , “I was particularly touched with Megan’s last statement, ‘Yep, I’m home,’ then your last statement, ‘I guess that is part of the joy of the journey’.” Both statements speak volumes, as far as I’m concerned, about the wonderful people the two of you are, and the great marriage that you share.

    Megan, I’m sorry that I cheated. After I read John’s last post
    (just after reading your last one) I finally felt that I could respond. Since I wanted to say basically the same thing to both of you, I copied and pasted because I knew I’d never remember exactly how to say it all again. Love you two so much!

  6. I love you. I love this. I still haven’t sent you my long rambling email about this series, because it truly is long and rambling, and I can’t really make much sense of it. But.

    I love that she googled Catholic symbols for Dummies, and I love the Frank Sinatra. And I love you, my sister in Christ.

  7. I enjoyed this entire series! Every word. My autumn was enriched by it. Thank you!

    “He asked us to consider where we are encountering a stone that seems impossible to move, especially a stone of fear or worry. Father Enda reminded us that the women didn’t need to move the stone; the Lord took care of that.”

    Oh, this is marvelous!

    “… my daughter Googled “Catholic symbols for dummies” ….HAHAHAHA.

  8. Mark Osler says:

    Everything always comes back to Sinatra…

  9. Thank you so much for this lovely, lovely series, Megan. I am so glad that you have found a home that is nourishing, people who are real, and a place in which you can worship with all of who you are. What a gift that is. And your telling of it – that is a gift to us.

  10. Megan, you have reminded me of my roots, of my cradle Catholicism, of my family heritage and traditions, and of the power of faith.

    Thank you.

    PS — I was just thinking of you as I opened my computer — I clicked on the link to see how you are doing and here you are with your wonderful words… Hugs

  11. Megan, thank you, for sharing this journey. It has been so special to walk along beside you. I love that the same hymn for both recessionals. How appropriate is that?

  12. Megan, thank you, for sharing this journey. It has been so special to walk along beside you. I love that the same hymn for both recessionals. Love how God does stuff like that.

  13. Gorgeous.

    You know? You could write 20 more posts just from each of the rich details in this ONE post. You’re amazing, all that you notice. And you always, always let the story do the work. You’re brilliant. Love you.

  14. I’m glad you wrote it out, in all its beautiful parts, and lovely details. I’m glad you shared this journey with us all.

  15. No one else could have told this so honestly and beautifully. Thank you so much for sharing your journey Megan. I’m glad about the “not 100 percent.” Who of us is?

  16. I finally read all of the pieces in the series, Megan, and I am just so happy for you to have found a spiritual home. I know what it’s like to be searching…to not be able to find a home…and then to be surprised by where you discover it. (BTW, I adore the descriptions of Father Edna and want to meet him sometime!) I love you and miss you so much. 🙂 But I’m immensely grateful that God allowed our paths to cross when we were both hurting, and when we needed a friend. You are a gift to me and to so many others. Truly. (And please: never, ever let anyone make you feel inferior because you are not like your mother. You are the most incredible person…with a unique, delightful outlook and significant gifts.) Big hugs, my friend. You have blessed me by sharing these.