Easter Vigil Service – A Warm Welcome to the Faith

With great joy the parish of St Hilda´s Whitby celebrated Easter this year, welcoming five men and women into the faith during the Easter Vigil on Saturday 8 April 2023. Fr. Michael Weitl of Madonna House, the lay community which had prepared them for their reception, presided over the celebrations during which Milo Thelwall received the sacrament of baptism and then was confirmed along with Harry Baker, Olivia Dealtry, Eilidh Macintyre and Denise Ritchie

There were many interesting comments from the five, about what made them become Catholic:

I first came into contact with Christianity online and listened to people talking about their experiences. Slowly I was drawn to Catholicism, read up more about it until I felt that this was the church that felt right for me. I then made contact with my local church in Whitby and met Father Pat. The first time I came was last Easter Sunday (2022) and I´ve been coming ever since. Fr. Pat introduced me to other people and I felt really welcome. The community here in St. Hilda´s felt different to other churches, more sincere in its welcoming. I also really enjoyed the RCIA progamme run by Madonna House. We watched videos, shared about what we had heard and spent time in prayer together. It was all very meaningful.

For many years I had had a lot of personal problems and was looking for something but I didn´t know what. By chance I met Father Pat. He told me to come and have a chat which I did. He seemed to understand where I was and he put me on the road to find what I needed. I then found other people in the parish who have also helped me on my way to faith. The centre of my faith?  Jesus, obviously, I wouldn´t be here otherwise.”

It felt weird to become a Catholic. It´s a really big step if you aren´t ´cradle´. For me, it purely had to do with who I met. I met Father Pat and another parishioner out walking on Westcliff during lockdown. I was thoroughly miserable having been widowed shortly beforehand, and they stopped and spoke to me. It took me a long time before I began going to mass, and even then I was quite happy being an outsider for a long time. But, as I´ve gone on, I´ve realised how much I do appreciate the Catholic faith. It has been like coming back to Jesus after a long time. I´d been brought up as a church-school Anglican and then there was a big gap, so now it feels like coming back home to something that I´d missed, and somehow it has just kept getting better as I´ve progressed with it. I´ve met others and found the community here incredibly welcoming. I honestly don´t know where my life would have gone if I hadn´t met Father Pat and M. at that time. God sends the right person along. It was a perfect introduction – not a heavy duty “come to church”. For a long time I was undecided and happy just to sit on the fence and not to receive Communion, but then all that changed. What began as a social thing has slowly evolved into something much more important.”

After ignoring the presence of God for many years, I found it harder and harder to do so. I really wanted to belong to a Christian community but didn´t know which and had started going to different ones. Someone invited me to come along to mass and once I had got over the shock and horror of going into a Catholic church, I went and immediately loved the mass. I spent months then just listening to it and accepting it. It was a real roller-coaster of doubt, though. It came down to accepting the reality of the Body and Blood of Christ. If I couldn´t do that, I wasn´t going to go anywhere. Then it was quite simple. I realized that Jesus said: “This is my Body” and I only had to accept His words. That was it. Receiving Communion now completes everything.”

Out of long spiritual seeking and in mystery Our blessed Lady brought me to the Church and the Church brought me to Christ, and there you have it. I simply got up one morning and it was the only thing to do.”