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The Easter Vigil 2013
Easter 2013 - Welcome to those being received into the Catholic Church
        
At the Vigil Mass (30th/31st March 2013), in the Church, we welcomed thirteen new members into the church:

Freddie Ford
Nicholas George
Sallyanne Boxhal

Georgina Graham

Nathan Johns
Hollie Edwin
Christopher Johnson   

Catherine Pointer
David Myles
Sally Edwin-Emanuel

Jason Jeffery
Charles Ellington
Jennifer Kabelis

Just before 9pm, after lighting the paschal candle, Fr Charles and the clergy led a procession in from the Car Park into the Church.

Despite the cold, at least it was dry - our prayers for the rain to hold off had been answered !!!     We had a huge crowd in the Church to celebrate our first Mass of Easter and the church looked magnificent

As at prevoius Easter vigils, we were delighted to welcome a number of new people into the Church.    Thirteen in total this year have journeyed the RCIA programme, under the spiritual guidance of our deacon Steve Pickard.   We congratulate them all and applaud their commitment, and we thank Steve and his RCIA team for all their hard work over the past few months

Two in particular, Jason Jeffery and David Myles, have shared some of the background, and the emotions.    Many thanks to Jason & David for this.
         
Jason's journey

Having not grown up in either the Catholic faith or even a religious family and only having brief experiences of religion taught badly in the Sunday school held at the local village hall and RE lessons in school during the early 70's and 80's, I never really considered Christianity at all.

As a young adult I started to feel a bit of a void forming but at that time and for many many years never really knew what that void was.

       
After a particularly long, painful and difficult period in my life I started to feel that void grow bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger. I began to feel I needed some spiritual guidance, a sort of framework or a way to live my life that would give me strength. This was when my real search began. I started reading various books on the subject of many religions, faiths and realised after many months that what I actually yearned for was a desire to have a relationship with Jesus and god.

You would have thought on that realisation it would be easy to find somewhere however, nothing could have been further from the truth. For a long time I was attending various different churches across many demonisation within the Church of England but none of them felt right. My search to find a way to worship god in the way that felt right for me continued until one day I drove up Beaconsfield Rd, a road I'd driven so many times before however, on this occasion felt compelled to pull into the car park adorning the church. I got out the car, walked round to the front of the church and stood there in the darkness for ages just staring up at the building. I took the telephone number from the board outside and phoned the office the very next morning. After doing my best to explain to Gina what I was looking for, she took my number and soon after Deacon Steve called me back.

Two days later there I was, walking through the doors of Maryland convent to join what were soon to be my RCIA buddies.


 

Joining the RCIA program was certainly the beginning of a journey we were all about to take together. A true life changing experience. Deacon Steve is the coordinator of the programme with massive help from Fr. Tom and Fr Jimmy. They were always available to me and to others to answer questions and offer guidance and support every step of the way.

Each Thursday night I learned about Jesus, the bible and about the church. I was introduced to different forms of prayer, meditation and ways of communicating with God. I learned the history of our faith, about the life and teachings of Jesus and the struggles he endured. I learned about Mass, the gospel, Eucharist and the Sacraments. I learned what it means to be part of a "church community", I learned ways to read, interpret , reflect upon and understand the Gospel. Through group discussions, I started to learn how to apply the teachings of Jesus Christ to my everyday life. I learned how to look for and recognise the presence of God in my life at all times, not just while in church on Sunday. I leant that Steve's wife bakes the most delicious hot cross buns and that Cath Pointer really likes to eat them (only joking Cath), I have learned many things in RCIA, the most important is that the journey of faith can begin at any time but certainly doesn't end with Baptism.

I would like to thank Deacon Steve, Fr Tom and Fr Jimmy along with my RCIA friends who have been pivotal in helping me along my journey. I would also like to give special thanks to Anne Myles for her full support to me as my sponsor. Thank you all.

As a member of the Catholic Church I feel the massive strong bond that we share together as Catholics and I will always Cherish that.
Jason Jeffery
         
David's journey

I’ve just been through the truly wonderful experience of being confirmed and becoming a full member of the Catholic community at the Easter Vigil Service. This followed a journey lasting over a year, which has fundamentally changed my life.

It has taken me a long time to reach this point, as revealed by the greying hair and receding hairline! You might reasonably ask me why it has taken me so long to develop a belief in Jesus Christ and a desire to become a Catholic.
I was bought up in the Christian household. My parents were and are practicing and very devout Christians. So what happened to me?

As a child I accepted my parents’ view of the world, including their Christian Faith. However, until recently I didn't develop an adult faith of my own. I went to University and thereafter life became very full and somehow I didn't see the relevance of Christianity to me.



So what changed? In a word, it was my wife, Anne. As the years went by, I observed that her faith was becoming more and more important to her, and she was getting more and more involved in church activities. I worried that far from growing closer together as our lives progressed, we could actually grow apart. I thought that if this was really so important to her, then the least I could do was to read and investigate it - something that in truth I had never seriously done.

In the mornings of January last year, before going into work, I started to read a Bible Study guide to the Gospel of Mark, written by William Barclay. It was quite a revelation - it put the words of the Bible into context and helped me to understand for the first time. I found it totally engrossing. As the days went by, I couldn't stop reading it. It was the implications of the gospel readings on how we should be living our lives that really got to me and made me think about my life. Anne had to be very patient with me as I asked her lots of questions.  I'm a scientist by training
and I'm afraid that I ask questions all of the time. Some of Anne's friends were also very kind and helped me, including suggesting further reading I could do.  One of the authors that had been recommended to me was an American called Peter Kreeft. I started reading a book by Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli called "Handbook of Catholic Apologetics". I decided that if I was going to really belief in Jesus Christ, I had to believe in his Resurrection. I wasn't expecting to find proof of the Resurrection, but I wanted to understand the circumstances of the death of Christ and his Resurrection. The book directly addressed a lot of alternative explanations that have been put forward for Christ's death and Resurrection (that he didn't die on the Cross, that his body was stolen, etc). Having read it, I found that the evidence compelling that Christ did indeed die and rise from the dead. I've described this as very intellectual exercise. But then it suddenly became a very emotional experience.

I can still very clearly remember the morning in February of last year when this just hit me. I really can’t describe my feelings adequately. It was so sudd
en, I found myself shaking and in tears. I had in a split second moved from an intellectual exercise, to an intellectual belief, and then suddenly to a very emotional experience. It wasn’t until that evening that I got up the courage to tell Anne, I was so scared that she wouldn’t believe me – it was such a dramatic change.

I carried on reading avidly. In fact, I was pretty difficult to live with, going to bed late, sometimes getting up at three in the morning to read more, always asking questions, often emotional. I joined Anne’s prayer group and have received their support and advice throughout that time. It was the example of what they all did as much as what they said that made a real impact on me. It has been a very humbling experience for me to be among a group of people who give so much of themselves to the church and community.

I went to every Mass I could at church, listened to all of the homilies very carefully (I found some real food for thought there), I attended the Alpha course last year, and arranged to see Steve Pickard to tell him I wanted to become a Catholic. I talked extensively to Peter and Krystyna Berners-Lee and Peter kindly agreed to become my sponsor on the RCIA programme. I went on a ‘Finding Silence’ weekend at Worth Abbey in October.

The RCIA programme was a fantastic experience - I learned so much from Deacon Steve Pickard, Fathers Tom and Jimmy – and from all of the questions and discussions we had.  There have been so many people who have helped me on this journey. When I have tried to thank them, many have said ‘But, I really didn’t do anything’. Some people have made a very big contribution, and there are many others to whom I have talked to a lesser extent. Looking back and recalling, I now appreciate that all of these have really added up to have a significant impact, to make a real difference. There is an amazing resource of willing, able and helpful people in the parish. Thank you!
David Myles


So what does my Faith mean to me?

At the moment, it's still a bit overwhelming. It totally took over my life - for a time, I even found it difficult to concentrate at work. I found myself talking to a lot of people about it - something I'd normally be very reticent to do. I have a need to continue to read and develop my understanding further. And my Faith journey? Well, it's started - and it has a long way to go...


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