The introduction to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults says that those who desire initiation “see the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts.”
Christopher Riley, parishioner and catechist at St. Pius X Parish, Granger, declared his own such desire and his intention to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2016.
“I grew up in Los Angeles and came to South Bend to enter law school at the University of Notre Dame. Upon my graduation in 2001, I said, ‘I’ll return (to South Bend) when the weather changes.’ (But) I continue to live and practice law here in Granger,” chuckled Riley.
Riley previously had attended an Assembly of God church in California. “My move to South Bend led me to spend time searching for a faith community. The times I attended St. Pius, I would learn more in Father Bill Schooler’s seven-minute homilies about the depth of Catholicism and sacred tradition, and how to live the faith we practice, then the other faith traditions I attended. I was also experiencing a medical crisis at the time, and I felt God’s presence through the people at St. Pius.” He was confirmed and received the Eucharist in the Catholic Church in 2016.
He embraces the call to live out his Catholic faith in the many ministries of parish life. Riley currently serves as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion, sacristan and Knights of Columbus member. He is on the Christ Renews His Parish welcome ministry, he is treasurer for the local St. Vincent de Paul conference and also is involved in a new men’s ministry, “That Man Is You.”
Then, a few years ago, he volunteered to be a catechist.
“One of my brothers in Christ from CRHP needed an assistant in his religious education class, so simply out of need I began assisting with the confirmation class. The past two years I have had my own class. This year, I have 12 students and I co-teach with my fiancée, Athelia (Diamond). We use the Socratic method to engage the students in higher-thinking skills.” The Socratic method is a learning methodology that encourages critical thinking by asking students to challenge their own assumptions.
In the first year of the two-year preparation, “This is the year which is a review of everything they have learned about their faith up to this point in their lives,” Riley explained. The students now can actively participate in discussion-and-answer with complete sentences and look to sacred tradition and the Scriptures to illustrate and see examples of why we do what we do.”
“I just love these kids” stated Diamond. “It’s amazing to watch them grow from the beginning of class till now; they go from trying to find the Gospel of Matthew to being able to find books in the Old Testament, such as Sirach, and the Gospels, in a matter of seconds.”
Diamond is originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was a member of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish prior to coming to Granger and St. Pius. She worked for St. Joseph County in the Planning, Infrastructure and Growth Department before leaving that position to become a fulltime caregiver for Riley, who has medical conditions.
Riley does not let his physical limitations keep him from serving others. As he prepares to celebrate the anniversary of his completion of the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil, he shared his thoughts to all of those entering into the Church this spring.
“Newly confirmed Catholics consciously chose the Church and have an infectious enthusiasm for its teachings,” he said. “Imparting those teachings to the next generation of Catholics is an unparalleled spiritual experience.”
“I choose to share what I have experienced in my faith journey in any way I can,” Riley shared. He hopes this year’s newly initiated will do the same among those with whom they come into contact.
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