Never the Same
Last week, the Parish welcomed 16 new members who were initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.David Nelson (pictured below) was one of them. David, his wife Monica, and their family have been members of our parish for five years. You may also know David Nelson as the Dean of Students and baseball coach at Bishop Verot High School. The proud father of two children, Brayden and Grace, is now beaming with joy after getting baptized and confirmed last weekend. I caught up with him four days before the Easter Vigil to talk with him about the RCIA process and his faith journey.DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
Danielle Koleniak: Tell us a little bit about your story and what let you to decide to go through the RCIA process?
David Nelson: I grew up in a family who had no religion. My grandma had a picture of Jesus on the wall. I knew she believed, but we never had any conversations. My mom and Dad never went to church. I don’t even know what they really believe in right now. Growing up, I went to church a couple of times for Bible School with my uncle. I remember coloring pictures there. I was little. Other than that, I had no religious background. I knew of God, I knew of Jesus. I believed. There was always something that drew me to religion even though I didn’t have any background in it. When I went off to college, I had a college roommate who was Lutheran. His girlfriend was Catholic. He wanted to become Catholic, and they were planning on getting married, so he started the RCIA process. He asked me if I wanted to join. I didn’t really know much. I told him I wasn’t ready, but he started getting me into Christian Rock. I started listening to the music and it really drew me towards God and Jesus. My roommate and I started having faith conversations and I went to Sunday Mass with him. Fast forward a few years and I end up in Fort Myers and I met my future wife, Monica, who is Catholic. We got engaged and I married into a Catholic family. I eventually started coaching baseball at Bishop Verot and we had our first child, Brayden. He was baptized here at St.John XXIII. We’ve been members of the parish for 5 years. My wife and I started having conversations again about me getting baptized. I work with a coach, Rich, who really encouraged me. I started the RCIA process, in September when my daughter, Grace was born. It was always a goal of mine to become baptized.
That was my journey. Everything happens for a reason. The plan that God had for me was to surround me with Catholicism and because of that, this is the path I’m on.
DK: Talk about what the RCIA process was like for you.
DN: The very first class, I sat down and our leader, Barbara Catineau, was right there. She had such a kind heart and her leadership has been very inspirational to me. The first thing I took from this whole experience was that there were so many different people who go through this process. Everyone with their backgrounds is so different. I’m so happy to be a part of this dynamic community who are all heading toward Jesus.
DK: How has your relationship with God changed from September to now?
DN: There has definitely been growth. I feel like I have always had deep spirituality but nothing like now. I go home and have conversations with my wife, Monica, about what I learned. It allowed us to have a special connection. That’s exactly what I wanted to happen. I wanted this to bring my family closer together and closer to God. I can’t tell you that temptations haven’t gone away, but now I have the strength to be able to push away from them. I always looked forward to the day I would be baptized and receive the Eucharist. Going through the classes felt like home.
DK: What are your expectations of being baptized and confirmed at Easter Vigil?
DN: I expect it to be emotional. In reality, I went through 18 years of my life not truly knowing Jesus. I think by taking the Eucharist for the first time it is really going to connect me with God and knowing that I’m home. This is where I’m supposed to be. That feeling is going to be tremendous. I know now that I’m a child of God and whatever the devil throws at me, I can overcome. I have the tools.
DK: How do you think this experience will change the dynamic of your family?
DN: We want to raise our children in the Church. We want them to know Jesus and for Him to be the center of their lives. I don’t think it’s going to change our family, but it’s going to bring our family together. I also get to set the example for my kids by going to Mass and fully participate in Mass. This will impact their kids, and their kids’ kids. For me, I changed the cycle. I have two sisters and a brother. None of them are baptized… I don’t even know if my parents are baptized. I changed the cycle for my family moving forward. I pray that my kids continue that. I want them, to know too, that learning about Jesus never stops— it is going to continue for their entire life. Sometimes people have a hard time with that because people want to be in control.
DK: Is there anything else that you would like to share about your experience?
DN: I just want to thank Barbara Catineau, Father Bob, the Catechists and everyone who has helped along the way.
I also want to share this story: We recently had a retreat for RCIA. It took place during the same time as the Easter Egg Hunt. We were able to take some time to spend with our families at the Egg Hunt. What made an impact on me was that Brayden came back to me with a basket full of eggs and he said to me, ‘I got to go show Father Bob!’ For me, it just showed me how the Church and community are so great. You can see that the Church and Father Bob have already made an impact on my five year-old son.
When Father Bob says, he doesn’t care where you come from, what you’ve been through, that you’re welcome here, I know that it’s absolutely true. I can attest for that. I’m so blessed to be surrounded by the people at this church.