An amazing RCIA story

April 10, 2012


Father John Ubel prepares to baptize people preparing to join the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil at Saint Agnes in St. Paul.

I got to witness what I believe is a once-in-a-lifetime event over the weekend. It took place Saturday at the Easter Vigil Mass at Saint Agnes in St. Paul.

Sitting in the front row were nine children from the same family, all of whom were there to be baptized and received into the Catholic Church. Their amazing story will be published this week in The Catholic Spirit.

We at The Catholic Spirit were tipped off by the pastor at Saint Agnes, Father John Ubel, who felt this was a unique story that was worth telling. Immediately, we agreed and made arrangements to interview the children and their uncle, who now is their legal guardian. Father Ubel also invited myself and the reporter assigned to the story, Julie Carroll, to come to the Easter Vigil to witness and document this remarkable event.

After attending the rehearsal a few days before, I felt confident about being able to be in the right place at the right time to capture all the drama. I can’t finish my commentary on covering the event without mentioning how incredibly gracious and hospitable Father Ubel and the parish staff were to me. They bent over backwards making sure I was able to get everything I needed.

The only tense moment came when the children, and several others who were being baptized, assembled on the steps of the sanctuary facing Father Ubel and the baptismal font. During the rehearsal, I noticed that the podium on the left side of the sanctuary was blocking my view of the family from the sacristy door. So, I had asked Father Ubel if it could be moved when the people gathered on the steps just prior to being baptized.

No problem, he said. But, during the Mass, someone forgot to move it. So, I talked to an altar server in the sacristy, who in turn notified a sacristan. Quickly and discreetly, they went out and moved the podium off to the side so I could see everyone and get a shot of the whole family, along with the others there to be baptized.

The only other problem, which had nothing to do with taking photos, was the fact that I did not understand the many prayers and singing done in Latin. Although I minored in Latin in college, I hadn’t used it much after that. Would have been helpful to brush up before the Easter Vigil at Saint Agnes.

I was impressed by how well the congregation knew the Latin prayers. To be honest, I’m having enough trouble getting the prayers of the New Roman Missal right in English, let alone trying to do them in Latin. As much as I wanted to join in with the congregation, I was not able to do so.

Fortunately, Father Ubel’s homily was in English. He focused on the Easter candle and talked about its connection to Jesus, the Light of the World.

It was obvious that the light, both literally and spiritually, was shining brightly at St. Agnes on this night.


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About Dave Hrbacek

Staff photographer and writer for The Catholic Spirit. Also, avid outdoors enthusiast with a passion for hunting, fishing and photography. Married to Julie and have four children, three boys and a girl.

View all posts by Dave Hrbacek