Baptism 40 Years Later

The Easter Vigil of 1972 took place on April 1. On that night 40 years ago, I walked across across the small town of Northfield, Minnesota with two of my college friends to attend the Easter Vigil – my first – and to be baptized and received into the Catholic Church.   One other person was baptized that night: a baby.  Looking back, I realize I didn’t know much more than the baby about what the ceremony meant.  In fact, all I really knew was that there was something about these Catholics – the way they prayed, the way they treated each other, their hope in the face of difficulty – that I wanted to be part of.  I figured that once I was “in” I would find out.  I’m still learning.

On this fortieth anniversary of that baptism, I traveled across the bridge to Superior, Wisconsin to the Cathedral of Christ the King, where two adults were baptized and entered the Church.  They knew a bit more – the Church developed the RCIA shortly after my haphazard preparation in the early post-Vatican II years; catechumens are  now well instructed and already a part of the community.  The assembly is fairly small – Superior is not a large city – but joyous, reverent, prayerful.  The two adults (no babies this year!) were radiant as, clothed with white garments, they entered the community of the Church.

I had no idea, 40 years ago, that the vague longing to “be part of that life” would lead me  – after living in three other cities – to a Benedictine monastery just a few hours drive north. The original St. Dominic’s Church in Northfield is gone – it was replaced with a new structure – and both of the friends who accompanied me that night have gone on to other things. But the God who stirred up that curiosity to know more has never left me.  Who knows what the future holds for those two brand-new Christians in Superior – or for me – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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