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Notre Dame prepares for Easter weekend

Tricia de Groot | Thursday, March 24, 2005

Holy Week is a time of endings and beginnings.

For Catholics, Easter is the end of the liturgical year and the beginning of new life in Christ. For the catechumens of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program (RCIA), the week marks the end of their spiritual journey and the beginning of new life in the Church.

This year, Notre Dame’s RCIA program – headed by Tami Schmitz of Campus Ministry – will welcome 24 new Catholics. Eleven of these are known as catechumens, who celebrate all three sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation and the Holy Eucharist). Thirteen are called candidates, who have already been baptized but are seeking full association with the Church.

The catechumens will be celebrating their sacraments this Holy Week, while the candidates will be initiated into the Church on April 10.

Each of these candidates and catechumens has a sponsor, many of whom are Notre Dame students. Sponsor Eleigh Radigan said she takes this role very seriously.

“Because Christ is present to us only in community,” Radigan said, “and because we believe that the Church is the institution of Christ and His community on Earth, the role of sponsor/candidate, or sponsor/member of the elect, is essential in the faith journey.”

Many students elect friends as sponsors so as to experience their new journey with a comfortable guide.

“A person experiences the love of God through others,” Radigan said, “and if that love is powerful enough to call them into a deeper life of faith within Holy Mother Church, then it is not hard to see how such a person would want to choose a friend to walk with them.”

Candidate Sarah Roseberry said that their “faith-centered” friendship inspired her to choose Radigan as her sponsor.

“She was instrumental in answering so many of my initial questions,” Roseberry said.

Each sponsor participates in different activities to best fulfill this role of spiritual mentor.

“I go to RCIA with Spence [McSorley, a catechumen] and basically my job is just to walk with him,” Chris Scaperlanda, another sponsor, said. “We have lunch weekly just to talk about life and stuff, and if he has any questions, he comes and talks to me.”

Radigan and Roseberry said they go to class and mass with the RCIA group every Sunday and meet an additional few times a week to go to mass or just to talk over a cup of coffee.

Many of the sponsors and their candidates or catechumens are making a special effort to meet during Holy week.

“During holy week, he [Spence] and I are trying to go to as many of the services together as possible,” Scaperlanda said.

The candidates view these next few days as a final preparation for their sacraments.

“I think a lot of my preparation for Holy Week has just been making sure that faith is a part of my daily life, which means a lot of ‘me time’ to reflect on my life, and a lot of time at daily mass and prayer and such,” Roseberry said.