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Published 9:56 pm Friday, June 3, 2011

The church on South Broad Street is holding informational sessions for those interested in learning more about Catholicism.

Church hopes to bring more into the fold

St. Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church is hoping to see more parishioners in its pews in the coming months.

The church is hosting informational sessions this month to welcome people who are interesting in finding out more about the Catholic faith.

The altar at St. Mary of the Presentation Catholic Church is seen after a recent weekday afternoon service.

“A lot of people might be kind of searching,” said Aggie Dowd, a member of St. Mary Catholic Church who is in charge of the informational sessions. “They have no idea how you go about coming into the Catholic church.”

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The informational sessions will be held June 16 at 6:30 p.m. and June 19 at 12:30 p.m. More sessions are coming up in September.

At the events, people can meet members of the church, find out their answers to questions about the Catholic faith and the local church community and learn how to become a Catholic.

“This is the way it was done in the early church,” Dowd said. “That’s how the apostles drew people to Christ. It really is part and parcel of the community. It envelops the person with not only knowledge about Christ and the Catholic faith, but the love of the community and the welcome of the community.”

The process, known as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, came back into prominence in the 1970s. Before that, the church brought in new adults after one-on-one meetings with the parish priest or bishop.

Aaron Trull, 41, recently was baptized into the Catholic church at an Easter vigil after going through the process himself.

“It was one of the things I looked forward to during the week,” Trull said. “It was very enlightening for me.”

Trull said he had been thinking about getting involved in the Catholic church for quite some time. His daughter and wife already were Catholic. He went through the process together with another daughter.

“I just encourage anybody who’s considering it to open the door and see what it has to offer,” Trull said.

The rite is a three-stage process, which begins with the informational meetings.

“They’re just there to get answers to questions, get to know the community and see if this is what they want,” Dowd said.

If they decide after the meeting they want to continue learning more, potential new members progress to a stage known as the catechumenate stage, where they declare their formal interest, are affirmed by the congregation and begin “seriously studying,” Dowd said.

The seekers meet regularly with a team and have a sponsor, Dowd said.

“This way you form lasting bonds with the team and with your sponsor,” Dowd said. “It’s really a very loving kind of thing. We’re trying to help them get to know Christ.”

The informational sessions are not only for new Catholics, but also for Catholics who have fallen away from their faith, Dowd said.

For more information on the sessions, call 809-3431.