I’ve just finished matching all our precatechumenate “enquirers” with parish sponsors. None of them came to their enquiry sessions with a strong Catholic friend, and so each time this happens, we sit down and think about a good person in the parish to match them with. This arrangement has huge advantages: it means that the enquirer is gradually introduced into parish life through their sponsor – introducing them to people and inviting them to events; it means that the enquirer has someone they can chat with regularly one-on-one (which is less likely to happen during catechetical sessions); and the sponsor grows to know the enquirer/candidate very well and can help discern how ready they are for each liturgical step of the process.
Last night in our precatechumenate session, the enquirers started joking that I must have done some background research on them… OK, so for one of the men, I happened to notice he worked in the same company as a daily-Mass-going Catholic dad of six in our parish, so we paired them up. They work in a highly demanding profession with long hours which make catechesis sessions a struggle, so I am praying this will work well for them. Another lady discovered that her sponsor’s husband is someone she went to university with. And another pair discovered they used to share the same nanny! These last two are completely coincidental, but it is funny the connections that arise when a person arrives in a parish thinking they know no one and are an outsider.
Over the last year, I’ve noticed how the candidates with the most dedicated sponsors made the most progress. Some came along to catechetical sessions, went with them to daily Mass one day a week, met them regularly for coffee, and got to know them really well as friends. It was great having them in catechesis as well, sharing their own experience and inputting helpful advice.
There’s a great article here – a wonderful RCIA blog that has some great advice on all things RCIA.