After three months of lockdown, Maternity BVM Church in Bourbonnais finally got the chance to open its doors and welcome new people to the faith.

Fr. Jason Nesbit welcomes RCIA candidates into the faith (Photos by Blake Bradley).

During a 9 a.m. Mass on Aug. 2, Fr. Jason Nesbit, CSV, Pastor, welcomed the parish’s elect and RCIA candidates, who were received into the church and received the sacraments of initiation. One new member received the sacrament of baptism, and as a group they received the sacraments of first communion and confirmation.

“They were supposed to be welcomed at the Easter vigil,” Fr. Jason said, “so after being separated for three months, having the chance to celebrate with them and their families, was a special moment.”

Francis Bradley is prepared for baptism.

For Fr. Jason, this was the 10th group of RCIA candidates he has welcomed into the Maternity BVM community, dating back to his first year as a deacon. Over the years, he has seen some of those same people go on to become involved in leadership and liturgical roles within the parish.

Family members and parishioners extend their hands in a blessing.

“It’s always a sense of joy,” Fr. Jason says. “It represents new disciples, new growth in the church, from those who felt invited to journey with us.”

Apparently, the feeling is growing. Already, the parish has fielded inquiries into its next series of RCIA instruction, which start in September. Fr. Jason credits the parish’s new mission statement, which takes its lead from Pope Francis, in calling for new evangelization and missionary discipleship.

“We really want to promote and invite people,” he says, “to consider joining us in the faith.”