'Our new wedding day': Easter Vigil made extra-special

Most Catholics receive the sacraments one at a time. Catechumens celebrate three sacraments of initiation in becoming full members of the church. Rose and Doug Butch went one step further, receiving four sacraments in one night.

Their remarkable faith journey began with a friend’s invitation to attend Mass — one they now extend to others.

The couple, along with their son, Noah Ramirez, 15, were fully initiated into the church during the Easter Vigil on April 20 at St. Vitus Church in New Castle. All three were given the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist from Father Joseph McCaffrey, administrator of the seven-parish grouping. Then the Butches had their marriage validated by the church.

“The ceremony was incredible. It made me feel really special,” Doug said. “This is our new wedding day.”

“There are no words to describe the joy and the beauty it brought us,” Rose added. “We formed a covenant, the three of us.”

She recalled her difficult childhood, losing her father at a young age and being cared for by an aunt. “I had lost all faith in God,” she said.

Years later Rose was raising Noah by herself when she met Doug, who was recovering from a bad car accident. They were married in a non-denominational church in 2012.

Jean Pascale, a parishioner and staff member at St. James the Apostle Parish in Pulaski, invited Rose to attend Sunday Mass with her. Rose hesitated because she was unfamiliar with the liturgy, but eventually accepted. Then Noah offered to go with her. Doug followed, and the family soon began the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.

“It’s rewarding to work with people so eager to learn the faith,” said Humility of Mary Sister Zoe Ann Reiter, longtime director of adult faith formation at St. James the Apostle and a member of the joint RCIA team.

“It’s been so meaningful to them, not just understanding the doctrine but embracing the conversion experience, becoming more Christ-like,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about — living your life in a different way.”

“They are on fire with their faith, and their excitement is contagious,” said Deacon John Carran, who officiated the marriage validation ceremony and stood as Doug’s godfather for his baptism. “They’ve helped re-energize me by their example.”

Mike and Kris Deemer, also from St. James the Apostle, served as sponsors for the couple. Kris was in RCIA 28 years ago.

“It was refreshing to go through it again and see them learning and growing,” she said. “It renewed me and made me reflect on where I am in my own faith.”

“I understand the Mass better. It now has meaning,” Doug said. “They made us feel comfortable.”

As members of St. James and now in the fourth stage of RCIA — reflecting on the mysteries of the Mass and the sacraments — Rose has passed on that invitation to relatives who want to return to practicing the faith. She expressed her gratitude in a prayer.

“God, thank you for loving me long enough and strong enough to help me through this faith journey,” she said. “Thank you for bringing my family with me. You told me, ‘Rose, you had a bumpy road, but I never left you.’”