In spite of many obstacles caused by COVID-19, there are hundreds of individuals in the Diocese of St Petersburg who have been moved by the Holy Spirit to say “Yes” to becoming Catholic this year. Everyone has a unique faith story, including Adam Finley. The 21-year-old was baptized, confirmed and received first Holy Communion on March 21st at Christ the King Parish, Tampa. While most adults will be baptized on Easter, he received an exception because he’s leaving for basic training in Texas at the end of the month.
“We have a year-round process where people can begin the process of Initiation at any time, so we have seen an increase in people seeking to become baptized than in previous years. Also, the pandemic has given people the opportunity to think and to pray to see where God is leading them,” said Neil Kennedy, Coordinator of Adult Faith Formation and Evangelization, Christ the King Parish.
Adam started attending Mass at Christ the King Parish because his girlfriend invited him to attend with her. At first, he only attended because of this and he didn’t really understand the Mass. However, one year later, he joined the process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) to learn more about the Catholic faith and prepare to become Catholic.
Adam did not own a Bible at the time, but as soon as he joined the RCIA he found a Bible to be very helpful. He has also realized the beauty of the Sacraments. In his continued learning, he said “I cannot think of a doctrine that I find hard to accept, but I can think of things I’d like to understand further.”
Adam said his journey to the Catholic faith was enriched by Neil, a “brilliant man” who explained the Catholic Church in a way that opened Adams’s heart to accept the love of Christ through the Sacraments.
Neil shared that through the pandemic God has been with us and is calling each of us to greater faith.
“If there is something that I am going to take out of this year it’s that God continues to work. God continues to shape us and God will not lead us into despair. There is always hope that there is better to come. The despair and the hurt and the sorrow are real, absolutely. But there is always that glimmer of light behind that cloud, behind that sorrow. That is really how we can see the Son, Jesus Christ.”
There are many who are searching for a deeper meaning in their lives, particularly from their experience through this pandemic. This experience may have brought up questions about their life, meaning, and purpose. Your local Catholic church would have a priest, deacon, or staff member that would be happy to discuss these questions with you and how RCIA may be a part of that plan.