Call of the spirit answered

"It felt like coming home."

Nicole Murphy describes her experience of completing initiation into the Catholic Church 36 years after being baptised.

"After my baptism as an infant, I was raised in another Christian denomination," says Ms Murphy. "Both sides of my extended family and many friends remained in the Catholic Church, so I had the pleasure of both a strong Bible-based upbringing, but also attending Mass and other Church celebrations throughout my teenage years."

Ms Murphy and her husband continued family traditions and had their two children baptised Catholics as infants.

"I believe this was the start of my spiritual calling back to the Catholic Church, even though I didn't realise it at the time," she says.

However, Ms Murphy felt the call deepen when their children started at the local Catholic kindergarten and she witnessed the spirit of the school community.

Shortly afterwards, Ms Murphy commenced teaching in a Catholic school and began to discover the connections between her faith practice as a child and life as a Catholic.

Within weeks of starting at St John's The Baptist Primary School, Maitland, Ms Murphy began the Rite of Christian Incitation of Adults (RCIA).

RCIA is a process for adults and older children who seek Jesus and feel drawn to the Catholic faith. It is a journey into an ever-deepening love of God that introduces receivers to the Catholic community and the Catholic way of life.

"As a follower of Jesus, I felt comfortable but somewhat of a novice regarding many traditions and rituals within the Catholic Church," says Ms Murphy. She only recently was Confirmed and received her First Communion.

"I found the RCIA provided a wonderful, fulfilling, and supportive environment where I could have my questions answered and open myself to the abundance and grace of God," she says.

"It provided an opportunity to come together as a group, led by a support team, to explore the connection between the Gospel, and daily life. I found this particularly helpful in relation to our parenting, work practices and how we engage with the community and think about issues.”

Ms Murphy says this reflection reinforced many of her existing approaches, but also provides a soft place to fall spiritually and emotionally when she encounters stressful situations.

"I was reminded of messages of grace and understanding, which as adults we provide to children in our care, but the Gospel prompts us to understand that they're
there for us too," she says.

Ms Murphy’s formal involvement in the RCIA process lasted a year and concluded in October.

"Spiritually, I had been enjoying the celebration of Mass each week,” she says. “However, now I am able to join the community in receiving Holy Communion, I feel genuinely part of St Joseph's parish," she says.

One of the most profound gifts of the RCIA process Ms Murphy encountered was the humility displayed by members of the St Joseph's parish support community.

"We would often hear them say, ‘We are all still on our journey. We never stop learning.’

"This expression of humility was my initial introduction to the St Joseph's parish and continues to be a guiding principle."

Having completed her Initiation into the Catholic Church, Ms Murphy is only too aware this is the beginning of the next stage of her faith journey.

"Lifted in prayer by our support team and parish community, I now look forward to continuing along my long path of discovery and learning as I move into life as a full member of the Catholic faith," she says.

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Lizzie Snedden Image
Lizzie Snedden

Lizzie is Team Leader Content for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

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