St. Clair Shores — The drive from New Baltimore to St. Clair Shores was a nerve-racking one for Lindsay Champine.
Champine was in the passenger seat, nervously asking her fiancé, Nick, what kind of questions Fr. James Commyn, pastor of St. Lucy Parish, would ask the couple.
It was 2015, and Lindsay never really had much of a church experience. But Nick was Catholic, and they both felt a desire to be married in the Church. So she became nervous as marriage prep was about to begin.
“We wanted to get married in the chapel at Sacred Heart Academy, and friends told us about Fr. Jim,” Champine told The Michigan Catholic. “That brought us to St. Lucy’s, and I was so scared when I met him. I never went to any church growing up. I knew nothing; I was worried about being judged and not being accepted.”
Fr. Commyn looked at the couple, asking who he should start with first. Lindsay volunteered Nick — offering her a little more time to sweat it out. But then it came time to sit face to face with the priest.
“I just stared at him and said, ‘Yeah, I know nothing, I have no religion,’” Champine said. “He was so welcoming, asking me questions, turning it into a game. Then I met the office manager, Dianne, who came in and shared that she was a convert and told me her story. I just thought everyone had their religion; I didn’t know the process to join.”
Nick and Lindsay were married in April 2016, and that September, Lindsay started the RCIA program at St. Lucy.
“When they explained to me what would be going on, I didn’t realize how much I would get from it,” Champine said. “I thought I would go to these classes and learn, but I didn’t just want to do these classes to get married; I wanted it to be a journey.”
This Easter, Lindsay will be baptized, confirmed and receive her first holy Communion. With her husband as her sponsor, Lindsay looks forward most to receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
“Every time Nick goes up there, when he comes back I kiss him on the shoulder after he receives Communion, so I feel connected even more to Christ,” Champine said.
On Feb. 17-18, Champine and other catechumens and candidates for full communion into the Catholic Church gathered at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit for the Rite of Election, in which catechumens enrolled their names in the Book of Life.
Catechumens and candidates stood with their sponsors, as Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron explained the promises they were making before gaining full admittance into the Church.
“As you are coming into this celebrating, I ask you to realize once more the riches all of you bring to the Church,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “I don’t mean money; honestly, what I mean is the human and supernatural riches that are bestowed upon you. All the graces that have been yours up to this moment have led you on a journey to share those graces with the Church.”
Just as each person’s conversion story is unique, Archbishop Vigneron added the Rite of Election, and upcoming Easter Vigil, are very much public acts in which one’s personal history is joined with the history and gifts of the Catholic Church.
“It’s like having in-laws,” Archbishop Vigneron said during his homily. “If you’re married, you have a mother-in-law and father-in-law. You used to have one family, one history. But in a marriage, your spouse’s family becomes your own. That is part of your own life history.”
By joining the Church, catechumens and candidates are joining the history of God’s plan to redeem the world from sin, Archbishop Vigneron said.
“It is by communion with Jesus Christ that God’s history becomes our history,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “In this communion, your baptism becomes a marriage between yourself and God and the Church. In His midst, Jesus gives Himself to be owned by the Church. Everything Jesus has belongs to the Church. And the Church has nothing but what Jesus gives her.”
This year, 837 people will enter the Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit: 313 catechumens, 360 candidates (Christians baptized in another denomination) for full communion, and 164 Catholic candidates (Catholics who were baptized but not confirmed).
Kaitlin Benson of St. Mary Parish in Royal Oak will be baptized, confirmed and receive her first Communion this Easter.
“I’ve always had a close, personal relationship with God, but was never fully close to the Church,” Benson said following the Rite of Election. “After school, I wanted to get into a closer relationship than what I had.”
“I started to pray every day since I took RCIA classes,” Benson said. “I see a lot more love and kindness in the world. It’s been for the better. Thinking about receiving those sacraments, I get shivers or chills. Even today coming to see the archbishop, I look even more forward to receiving the sacraments.”
As the day approaches, Lindsay Champine beams with excitement, anticipating the day she can be fully accepted into the Church, and all the graces from Christ that flow from it.
“I’m Catholic because I want to be,” Champine said. “I believe what Catholics do and believe; it’s so strong, so inspiring. I see the graces in their lives, and I want that grace. Their faith inspires me; and I want to inspire others. To be that witness. To believe.”