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RCIA: Evangelizing Couples
Many years ago, after a particularly challenging day of ministry, I blurted out (in jest), “Ministry would be easy if it wasn’t for people.” Since then, I occasionally utter this phrase when the complicated nature of people’s lives messes with my nice, ordered ministry schedule—which is most of the time. The point is that the Church, and our ministry as an extension of the Church, exists to make disciples. Disciples are people. People are messy. If your ministry is not messy, you might not be making disciples but simply moving people through a program. When it comes to messy, nothing compares to couples, marriage and the RCIA. One year I had members of a blended family desiring to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. The husband and his son were Catholic; the wife and her two children were becoming Catholic. Both had been married before and the couple really wanted God in their life. Even though the husband was Catholic, I invited him to RCIA as well, and he accepted. As the year went on, the kids and husband were doing great, but the wife was having difficulty overcoming her Protestant understanding of certain teachings. Finally, the wife emailed me saying that she was dropping RCIA because the pressure to become Catholic was too much. She felt like she was only doing this for her husband. Knowing that conversion is a process and that I never know when people will respond to the Holy Spirit, I recommended that she continue with RCIA so that she will at least be aware of what her children and husband are learning. I told her not to worry about Easter and that I’ll assume she is not becoming Catholic. She agreed. The pressure of Easter was off and she enjoyed the classes and kept coming with her husband and children. Two weeks later I gave a talk on sin, grace and sacraments and how grace breaks the chains of sin. When we transitioned to small group discussions, she told her group leader, “That’s what I need! I need to be free from sin! I’ve tried for years and I can’t do it on my own. I want to become Catholic!” She and her children were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil and the entire family was blessed. I want to briefly talk about two important areas that must be considered, when ministering to couples in RCIA: sponsors and evangelizing both spouses. I will mainly refer to spouses, but the following principles apply to dating or engaged couples as well.