March 2, 2016 // Local

Teen reception of first Communion meant ‘coming home’

Alexander Broom , Bishop Luers senior, poses with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades following her full reception into the Catholic Church on Jan. 28.

By Kay Cozad

A number of high school youth from across the diocese have been eagerly preparing to enter the Catholic Church with the reception of the sacraments. They have found a home in the Church through their high school Rite of Christian Initiation of Teens (RCIT) program offered through each school’s Campus Ministry.

Alexandra Broom, a senior at Bishop Luers High School in Fort Wayne, was raised Christian, but did not attend a church regularly. As a child she learned about the Catholic faith through her grandmother, but by 13 had accepted a friend’s invitation to the Methodist Church where she was baptized and confirmed. Soon she found herself investigating other faiths but remained unfulfilled.

“Once I started coming to Luers, my knowledge of Catholicism grew tremendously. I considered converting to Catholicism before attending Luers. However, the four years of a Catholic environment with excellent teachers and helpful friends guided me to come to know the Truth easily,” she said.

Broom’s discernment took a full six years. “The Catholic Church was the first place I really felt myself connect to God on a regular basis and understood His truth. With this realization, I decided to become Catholic,” she said, adding that she began her preparation with Meg Hanlon, the head of Bishop Luers’ religion department.

So along with five other Bishop Luers students, “Every Wednesday we would meet after school and discuss the Catholic faith and confirm this was the right path for me. We practiced receiving the sacraments, chose our patron saint’s name (St. Joan of Arc), chose a sponsor (my grandma, Lynn Parsons), and grew closer to God as a group. Mrs. Hanlon really furthered our knowledge and was very encouraging the entire journey,” she said.

The culmination of her formation experience had her welcomed fully into the Catholic Church with first Communion and Confirmation conferred by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during his pastoral visit to Bishop Luers at a Mass on Jan. 28.

Broom’s first Communion was a homecoming she said. “Receiving the Eucharist meant I was coming home. I was finally partaking in the ultimate sacrifice for all of our sins. I was taking responsibility for my sins and thanking God by accepting Him into my temple so He can heal me and strengthen our relationship. It was an overwhelming sense of grace to receive my first communion,” she said.

Bishop Dwenger sophomore Brooke Griffith receives her first Communion from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during Mass on Jan. 8.

At Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, sophomore Brooke Griffith, was introduced to the Catholic faith in her freshman year. “After learning a lot from my freshman year into my sophomore year … I knew that God was leading me into the faith and I wanted to make the next step,” she said, noting that last November she attended a retreat that touched her heart.

“I attended a retreat with St. Vincent (de Paul Parish in Fort Wayne) where I received first Reconciliation. During the retreat, I knew that there was something special about the Eucharist that I wanted to dive deeper into,” she said.

Bishop Dwenger’s Campus Minister Jason Garrett leads the RCIT program there and Griffith noted of her formation, “Jason Garrett would go over a lesson, read over articles and books. We also practiced step-by step,” in preparation for reception of the sacraments.

Griffith’s chosen sponsor, Jaclyn Grutsch, who was instrumental in inviting Griffith to the meaningful retreat in November, was a catechetical guide as well. “My sponsor, Jaclyn Grutsch, was also a big help in helping me prepare by answering any questions I had and always lead me in the right direction,” Griffith said.

Griffith, along with another Bishop Dwenger student, received her first Communion and Confirmation during Bishop Rhoades’ pastoral visit to Bishop Dwenger on Jan. 8 and said, “It felt like it was the first time in my life that I was one with the Lord. Words cannot really explain the full mystery of this experience. It is fascinating that we are watching a miracle right in front of us during the preparation.”

Marian High School in Mishawaka is preparing six students for their reception of the sacraments to be celebrated next year with the assistance of Father Christopher Lapp, school chaplain, and Sister of St. Francis Sister Marie Morgan.

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