Above, Father Martino Nguyen, pastor of St. Boniface Church in Springfield, anoints Nicole Knight at the Springfield parish’s Easter Vigil March 31.At her far left is Alivia Messex & to Messex's right is Knight's mother Sandy. Photos by Jessica L. Marsala
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Three join Springfield parish family at Easter Vigil

Originally Appeared in : 9808-4/12/18

SPRINGFIELD--The first time that Nicole Knight set foot in St. Boniface Church in Springfield was November 7, 2015, the day she said goodbye to her father, who had passed away a little more than a week earlier.

 

This wasn’t the last time, however. 

 

In the two-and-half-years since that day, Knight and her mother have returned again and again — finally being brought into full communion with the Catholic Church at the parish’s Easter Vigil March 31 — crediting the support of their newly found spiritual family, who Knight says took them “under their wings” in the aftermath of her father’s death.

 

 “There was just something about this Church,” Knight said, describing her mindset when she first visited. Knight’s mother, Sandy Kowalski, similarly described the way in which the church welcomed them “with open arms” as the “most extraordinary feeling” she’s ever had from a church. “I had been lost for several years — more years than I can count — and I had been away from the Catholic faith a very long time, and there’s just something about the openness and just the family-type feeling I got when I came here. I just feel like this is home.”

 

At the Easter Vigil, Father Martino Bá Thông Nguyen, pastor of St. Boniface Church, also administered the Sacraments of Initiation to catechumen Avilia Messex, who credits her boyfriend and sponsor Joseph Sheahan, another parishioner of St. Boniface Church, with gently introducing her to the Catholic faith.

 

 “They’re so welcoming and loving and they just make you want to be here,” Messex said of her new parish family. She earlier explained that though she had previously explored other religions, she eventually “kind of turned a blind eye” to all religion prior to her initiation into the Catholic Church.  “So that’s one of the best things that I’ve experienced is that they’re just so patient and kind and understanding and that even if I don’t understand something, they’ll help me understand it rather quickly.” 

 

One of the doctrines Knight herself struggled to grasp while attending classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was the role of her spiritual mother Mary — that is until she saw a parallel between Mary’s motherhood and her own.

 

“It’s almost like I got a little taste of what Mary went through whenever she had to give up her son to save all,” she said explaining that she decided to ask for Mary’s intercession to help her be a good mother and guide her youngest son, who was struggling at the time to make good decisions. 

 

Messex, who likewise said she relied on her spiritual father in times of need by praying the Our Father — even before she had met her sponsor and begun the RCIA process — said that she now hopes to be able reach out to others to help them in the way that her spiritual family helped her. 

 

“And now I’ve definitely come out that shell and I’m just like I care about you and so does God,” Messex said, having explained that she used to be reluctant to open up to others and demonstrate that she empathized with them. 

 

Jessica L. Marsala is assistant to the editor of the Southern Cross.

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