For the first forty-nine years of my life, the Easter Vigil meant nothing to me. That all changed at the Easter Vigil 2009 when Fr. Gregory Abbott and Fr. Michael Becker led me into the water as a Catechumen as I welcomed the light of Christ. I found myself immersed in the same baptismal font that my youngest daughter Anna was baptized in five years earlier. I had literally followed all three of my girls into the faith.
The occurrence would not have taken place without them. God set me on my path in February 1986 aged twenty six years. The journey was started as a result of my signature on a document that clearly explained my commitment to raise my future children in the Catholic faith. Father Joe at St. Gerard's Catholic church would not marry us without it. After all, I was being honest when I informed him of my agnostic beliefs. We hoped to have a bunch of kids, but they did not come.
The next 14 years were filled with infertility, doctors and frustration. As a Catholic, my wife Gina prayed on it. I also offered prayers that followed within my agnostic parameters, you know, "If you are up there please present us with children" type of prayer.
Those prayers were answered in 2001- 2003 when we journeyed to the Russian Republic on four occasions and gained our daughters through adoption. We moved to Albertville between daughters and set up shop. We were reminded of our commitment to raise our daughters Catholic and began to attend Mass on Sundays. Father Siebenaler then baptized Marina in 2003 and Father Michael Becker baptized Anna in the new church in 2005.
For the next five years I attended Mass with my family on a weekly basis. I behaved myself as a non-Catholic and stayed in my seat during communion while paying close attention to that which was going on around me. I asked Gina many questions about the Mass the stand- up-sit down stand-up sit-down, the doing of the dishes and such. What I witnessed also was a lot of men bringing their families to church, and leading them to faith filled lives.
This began to chip away at my uncertain position about Christ and God. I began to watch the EWTN network and studied Pope John Paul to some extent due to his huge cultural impact in the Christian world. My wife asked me if I was stalking the Catholic church. I guess I was, and we placed both girls on the list to attend the Catholic school and continued attending Mass. One day I found my way to Father Abbott's office discussing the RCIA program. I joined and spent the next year pouring over the Catechism.
The long, 49-year, meandering path then ended in 2009 at the Easter Vigil where Fr. Abbott and Fr. Becker led me into that same baptismal font that my daughter was led into five years earlier. The congregation that night could not have made me feel more welcome. I was bathed in Christ's light for the first time in my life. Delivered there in no small part due to my three girls.
So when you are thinking about which Easter service to attend, please consider the wonderful Easter Vigil. Where else can you witness a large group of people coming into the light of Jesus and embraced by his welcoming arms?