Levi Breederland and his wife Kaitlyn feel a strong sense of thankfulness as they approach Easter — after months of preparation they will finally be received into the Catholic Church.
“I can feel like everything is finally coming together. It seems like it’s been so long since we decided that we would become Catholic. We’ll finally be able to do and participate in everything,” says Levi.
Over 200 people across the Archdiocese of Edmonton are entering the Catholic Church this Easter, having completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), an introduction to the faith.
“Five years ago, we wouldn’t have considered this ever, but everything just fit together perfectly for us to be here, and I’m really thankful for that,” says Kaitlyn.
In the Archdiocese of Edmonton, 222 catechumens — people being formed in the Catholic faith — are to be baptized in the Church this year. Last year, 269 people did the same.
Infants and young children are baptized throughout the year, but almost all adults become Catholic during Easter, the most important season in the Church year.
“Easter is the great culmination of our faith, so that makes perfect sense in the way that we say, ‘This is when we celebrate Baptism and Confirmation and the Eucharist for the first time,’” says Father Paul Kavanagh, director of the archdiocesan Office for Divine Worship.
Kavanagh explains that the Easter is the best time to bring adults into the Church, since it is the celebration of our faith in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Levi is a candidate — someone baptized in another Christian tradition — while Kaitlyn is receiving a precautionary ‘conditional’ baptism as a catechumen, since she’s missing her baptismal records.
The Breederlands are converts from the Christian Reformed Church. Both were introduced to the Catholic faith by their friends at work. For Levi, it was Brian Holdsworth, his employer and now his sponsor.
“It’s definitely an honour and a privilege to be included in what is such an important aspect of a person’s life,” says Holdsworth, who himself entered the Catholic Church more than 15 years ago.
He emphasizes that being a sponsor is an important responsibility.
“This isn’t about sitting in the front row at the best events. This isn’t because you’re a rock star of the faith. This is a real honour to be included in somebody else’s life in this way, so take it seriously.”
After several conversations about faith, Levi started to yearn for the traditions that Catholicism had.
“There’s stuff that the Catholic Church does that, now I realize it isn’t wrong, it’s something that I’m missing out on,” says Levi, pointing to such traditions as praying to the saints.
“Once I learned that the Catholic Church has that whole process of confirming that a person is a saint and verifying miracles and all that, (I thought) this makes so much sense.”
Kaitlyn echoes this point, adding that after learning about Catholic teaching — such as the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist — it didn’t feel right to go back to her old church.
Kavanagh noted that converts, like the Breederlands, often bring a tremendous amount of enthusiasm .
“There’s a great gift of faith that comes with either the candidates or the catechumens,” says Kavanagh, adding it’s the traditions and beliefs that “cradle Catholics” take for granted.
“Catholics often say, ‘Oh, we’ve just been doing that our whole life!’ But (converts) haven’t. It’s almost new to them.”
However, joining the Catholic Church hasn’t been an easy journey for the Breederlands. Their parents don’t approve.
“I hope they’ll have a conversion too, but that’s been the hardest part, not having the approval from our families,” says Kaitlyn.