Welcome to the family

North Texas Catholic
(Apr 29, 2024) Feature

Parishioners pray the Rosary outside St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound on March 30 before the Easter Vigil Mass. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


Every year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, hundreds of people in the Diocese of Fort Worth enter the Church, welcomed as new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. 

New Catholics and their sponsors and families gathered for the Easter Vigil to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and their entry to the Church. 

Among the 1544 who entered the Church then, here are unique stories of four and how their faith journeys led to the Easter Vigil and joining the Catholic Church.


Gratitude and joy

Isabella Arreola is one of 629 catechumens in the diocese who entered the Church on March 30.

A catechumen is an unbaptized person seeking to follow Christ in His Church by preparing for Christian discipleship via baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion.

Father Raymond McDaniel baptizes Isabella Arreola during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound on March 30. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

The 21-year-old Denton resident prepared for the sacraments of initiation in her RCIA classes at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Flower Mound.

Becoming a Catholic at the Easter Vigil holds great meaning for Arreola.

“That makes me feel more grateful and more joyous because every day I sit and I do my prayers, and I just think about this time and trying to be close [with God],” she said. “It makes me feel very grateful that I have this community to fully immerse myself into and be able to finally be at one with Jesus.”

Attending St. Philip has clarified her thoughts on her faith.

“It’s definitely a strange feeling because I had always felt separated from the Church before I started coming to St. Philip. Something was always missing,” Arreola said. “Then I started going [to Mass] and learning a lot about the right way that you’re supposed to have a relationship with God, and a lot of things made a lot more sense to me and established my faith.

“Learning about His Passion and His works — it just makes me feel a lot more grateful.”

Being a catechumen taught her there is more to Easter than she had previously understood.

“Now it means more about redemption than anything else,” the graduating senior at the University of North Texas said. “I feel because I am getting baptized, it makes me feel like a rebirth. 

“It feels like a new beginning, and it makes me feel even closer to God because I have entered into the Church around the same time that He had died for us, so it’s an even more special bonding.”

She is also committed to praying daily, which wasn’t something she would do before.

“I would pray at night, but the way that I have a relationship with God has changed; the way that I view myself has changed,” Arreola said.

No longer a spectator

Another catechumen at St. Philip the Apostle, Mollie Reeves felt very excited to “have the Holy Spirit in me” after baptism. 

Participating in Mass takes on new meaning because she now receives Holy Communion. She explained, “I will be inside the church instead of a spectator looking in at Mass. It marks a new chapter in my religious journey that I have been praying about for years,” Reeves said.

Easter holds more significant meaning to her than it had in the past.

Mollie Reeves receives a candle from her sponsor, Pat Bianco, during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound on March 30. 
(NTC/Juan Guajardo)

“Before I became a catechumen, I believed Easter was a holy day due to a somewhat religious upbringing, but I did not understand the depth and importance of it,”

Reeves said. “Now I understand it is one of the holiest days … and the best opportunity to honor and remember the death and resurrection of Christ. 

“I also did not mourn on Good Friday and did not understand the reason for it. Now, I honor Christ the whole week of Easter and celebrate His resurrection,” she said. 


Humbled yet inspired

One of 915 candidates in the diocese, Blake Rogers attended RCIA classes at St. Michael Parish in Bedford.

A candidate is a baptized person from another Christian community who wants to become Catholic.

“This journey is a very meaningful time for me because I come from a different Christian denomination but stayed away from the Church for many years,” Rogers said.

“Before I returned, I felt very lost and like something in my life was missing.”

Marriage helped change that for Rogers, however.

“When I met my wife Theresa, who is Catholic, she felt the call to return to the Church as well, so we began our journey back together,” he said. “As I continued this journey, I have found a true family in the faith as well as what the true meaning of worship looks like.” 

His previous impression of Easter has changed.

“Before coming back to the faith, Easter seemed like a very commercialized holiday. It was an excuse to have a cookout and spend money on frivolous things. Kids receiving oversized Easter baskets and chasing down eggs in a field,” he recalled.

“Now I see it as a preparation for the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” Rogers said. “Truly showing to the world He is the true Son of God and inspiring His disciples to go out and make new disciples of men, culminating in St. Peter becoming the first pope of the Catholic Church and establishing the first institution of worship in the Catholic faith. 

“A time of celebration, as well,” he continued, “for welcoming new members into the Catholic faith.”

Father Raymond McDaniel confirms a neophyte during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound on March 30, 2024. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Rogers called his preparation for the Easter Vigil humbling yet inspiring.

“My preparations for entering the Church included partaking in the RCIA program, which has been a humbling and eye-opening experience actually. Sitting down with the knowledgeable RCIA team and reading through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Holy Bible,” Rogers said. 

“It opened my eyes to the true nature and fullest love of the Catholic Church and her humbling faith.”


Sponsored by her son

A fellow candidate, Denise Wilson, 64, said her journey has a bit of a backstory.

“I married a Catholic,” the Denton resident said. “But I was baptized Baptist, and I’ve always been in the Baptist Church.”

Her sons, she said, are cradle Catholics.

“That was one thing that [my husband] John and I, when we first started dating and talking about getting married, decided — our children would be raised in the Catholic faith,” Wilson said. “So, we did that.”

A young man smiles broadly after being confirmed by Father Raymond McDaniel during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Philip the Apostle Church in Flower Mound on March 30, 2024. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

Wilson said she felt kind of lost and floundered after her divorce.

“I just felt this kind of void in my life. That I needed something different, something else. So, that was the point in time when I really searched for what I needed,” Wilson shared.

“Even though I was still going to Church every Sunday, for the most part, I decided that fully becoming Catholic and going through confirmation would be, I think, the last point of fulfilling my life,” Wilson continued.

That’s when Wilson decided to enroll in RCIA at St. Philip the Apostle and begin the process of becoming a Catholic. 

Her youngest son, Scott, attends St. Philip with her and was her sponsor at the Easter Vigil.

“He’s very excited,” Wilson said.

Holy Saturday, Easter Vigil, Diocese of Fort Worth, entering the Church, new Catholics, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, catechumen, candidates, trending-english