Catholics-to-be continue to learn and grow in their faith even as their Easter Vigil entry into the Church is delayed by quarantine

CLAWSON — If everything had gone as planned, Stephanie Lang would have become a full member of the Catholic Church at Guardian Angels Parish in Clawson during the Easter Vigil. 

However, because of the 10-week suspension of in-person Masses in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Lang and countless other candidates and catechumens have received one extra lesson since completing their RCIA journeys: patience.

Despite the disappointment and yearning to receive Communion, Lang’s delayed entrance into the Catholic Church has come with some unique blessings, she said, allowing her to fall even more deeply in love with her newfound faith.

Lang began her RCIA journey in 2018, but when the time came to be baptized into the Catholic Church at the 2019 Easter Vigil, she didn’t feel ready. She was still drawn to the Church, however, and as a young woman, she found herself searching for a religion. 

Stephanie Lang found her faith in the Catholic Church and began RCIA when her daughter Makenzie began preparing for her first Communion last year. 

Her initial interaction with the Catholic faith as a teenager didn’t click, but when it was time to send her daughter Makenzie to school, she chose Guardian Angels. When Mackenzie, now 9 years old, began the process to receive her first Communion, Lang decided to enter RCIA. 

Now, during quarantine, Stephanie and Makenzie have been working together through both Makenzie’s religious homework and Lang’s readings and RCIA resources.

“She actually loves (her faith), which warms my heart,” Lang said. “She has seen me coming from knowing absolutely nothing.”

Since Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron lifted the Mass suspension on May 12, parishes have begun preparing to receive new Catholics into the faith, possibly as early as Pentecost. Lang hasn’t heard any updates yet, but she’s excited for whenever the time comes.

Lang’s RCIA instructor, Steve Petty, has kept in touch with Lang and the other candidates and catechumens with weekly one-on-one phone calls, and continues to provide them with resources and exercises to further their faith journey and education. 

Petty, the pastoral associate at Guardian Angels, said the extra time has allowed him to address the individual spiritual needs of those in his RCIA class. 

“It’s been interesting because in some ways we’ve lost a different communal aspect, but it has also presented an opportunity for me to break open their individual spiritual needs during this time,” Petty said. “That has been really quite edifying.”

While the candidates and catechumens are eager to enter the Church, Petty is encouraging them to unite their suffering to Christ’s. 

During the extra period of waiting, Lang and the other candidates and catechumens at Guardian Angels have continued studying their RCIA materials, including weekly Zoom calls.

“This is a unique time where God is allowing them to taste the cross in a unique way,” Petty said. “By extending that spiritual thirst, they are now in the desert for a little longer with Jesus. Maybe suffering is a school at this point in time, and it is teaching them to be more appreciative of what they have and to be more empathetic or compassionate to those who are losing their jobs or are sick in the hospitals.”

Petty is encouraged by the catechumens’ and candidates’ hope, and said their faith is a beacon of light for himself and others.

“(Jesus) also had trials that he had to overcome,” Lang said. “I feel that is very humbling. I don’t want to be complaining or upset because this is nothing — it pales in comparison to what God had to go through.”

Currently, Lang’s official date of entry into the Church is unknown. And while the suspension of her original date has been discouraging, this time has been fruitful for her. 

“I thought about how this was supposed to happen last year and it didn’t and then, of course, I thought, ‘Is this really meant to be for me?’” Lang said. “Then I thought, ‘You know what, this is meant to be and this is just him telling me to be patient and I have to wait and do things when it is his time and when He feels I am ready.’” 

“It is still going to be as meaningful no matter what day it happens on,” Lang said. “I am going to be one with him, finally. I don’t need a set date to make that happen.”

“(Jesus) also had trials that he had to overcome,” Lang added. “I feel that is very humbling. I don’t want to be complaining or upset because this is nothing — it pales in comparison to what God had to go through.”

Lang’s experience isn’t totally unique. Corrie Colf, a catechumen at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Plymouth, has also used the extra time to grow in her faith. 

Corrie Colf, a catechumen at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Plymouth, said her period of waiting unites her with candidates and catechumens across the world who have also had their entry into the Church delayed. 

“All of us (catechumens and candidates) have really come together during this time, and I think that’s the most important thing: we are not alone in this; we are not the only parish that is suffering,” Colf said. 

“Everyone around the world who wants to become Catholic is at this standstill right now,” Colf said. “This time has really allowed me to not only grow as a person but grow in my faith. I think it has made a stronger relationship with me and God because I know he has a plan for each and every one of us. And obviously he chose this year’s catechumens and candidates for a reason.”

Colf said she also hasn’t received updates yet about when she might be baptized, but she is trusting God’s plan and going with the flow. Her RCIA classes have continued, only now they are over Zoom.

Colf longs for her baptism, but she said she trusts God’s plan, believing that he chose this year’s candidates and catechumens for a reason. 

Colf’s growth in patience and trust is two-fold; not only was she scheduled to enter the Church, but her wedding planned for May 2 has been postponed as well, and she is looking forward to both once the time is right.

“I think it will be very rewarding,” Colf said. “I think it will fulfill all my wants and wishes and make me feel like a member of the Catholic faith and a beloved daughter of God. I am longing for it, but I know it’s His plan and His will when I do become baptized. 

“It is going to be refreshing and amazing, and I can’t wait.”