For The Dialog
CHESTERTOWN, Md. – Kelley Moore celebrated her 36th birthday by joining her two children and husband in the Catholic faith.
It wasn’t planned that way, but was rather a fluke of timing. She didn’t realize she would be received into the church at the Easter Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart Parish on March 26 when she entered the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults last year.
When the dual celebration occurred to her, she said, “I thought, well, that’s kind of bizarre in its own way.”
Yet it also was appropriate, celebrating the start of her human life as she entered the church on the day it celebrates the new life promised by Jesus’s resurrection.
Moore was one of dozens of people in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and thousands around the world, who were baptized and confirmed, and received their first Communion at Easter Vigil Masses around the world.
Hers was a family affair. Her sponsor was her husband, Thad Moore Jr. Her godparents were her in-laws, Thad and Chris Moore Sr. of Frederick, Md. Her sons, 6-year-old Thaddeus (nicknamed Trey) and 4-year-old Brayden, and her mother, Leah Northup, were among the congregation.
Brayden added an unexpected touch of lightness to the ritual when, as Father John Grasing poured water three times over his mother (in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), he laughed and proclaimed, loudly, “Mommy’s all wet.”
Father Grasing, administrator at Sacred Heart, leaned over and told Brayden “we’ll let her get dried off now” as Moore went to the sacristy to change into a white robe that designated her as newly baptized, which she wore through the remainder of Mass.
A second person, Rolando Pohl, was to have been baptized along with Moore, but his baptism occurred on a visit to his homeland of El Salvador late last year, when he wanted his marriage validated by the church. The pastor there insisted that he be baptized first, and performed both rites, according to Father Grasing.
In his homily, Father Grasing noted that the readings of the Vigil Mass tell the story of salvation history, starting with the creation. God made clear on many occasions that “you are my people and I will be your God.”
That doesn’t mean life will be easy, he said, noting the slavery of the Jewish people in the Old Testament and, on the Tuesday of Holy Week, the terror attacks in Belgium. “We gather and hear these stories and we try to make sense of it in a world where trains are bombed, airports are bombed,” and many live in fear, he said.
Speaking to Kelley Moore, he said that “there will be day when our faith will challenge us in a world where things will go wrong … where things in our own lives will go wrong.”
“But God says to you, Kelley, what he says to all of us, ‘You are my people.’ And God says to us, ‘I am delighted to be your God.’”
Kelley and Thaddeus have been together for 12 years, she said, and married in 2007. He encouraged her to be baptized but never insisted that she be baptized Catholic. “I felt very strongly that she should be baptized,” he said, “but it was her decision.”
From the beginning Kelley Moore said she was impressed by his strong Catholic faith, which was fostered by his birth family. “They are all active in the church,” she said.
She began accompanying him to Mass and decided, with him, that any children would be raised Catholic. Yet she never took a step toward officially joining the faith until last year, when son Trey began religious education classes at Sacred Heart.
“I was ready,” she said. “It’s a lot of things I always believed in. I was going to church with them every Sunday.”
While Trey was in religious education class after Sunday Mass, she attended a program called “Journey of Faith,” in which the day’s readings were discussed in relation to current life and Catholic doctrine was explored. She also joined the RCIA program, which met at night.
“What I really liked was they were able to break it down into everyday reality,” she said. That helped her “bring it into my everyday practice.”
Her mother expressed gratitude that her daughter became Catholic, even though Northup herself is Presbyterian.
“I’m very happy that she is baptized,” Northup said, “and that she joined Thad in the Catholic religion since they are raising their children Catholic.”