by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — When Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish here welcomes into the church at Easter brothers Isaac, Dominic and Elias Jaramillo, and their two friends — Jackson Davenport and Edson Barron — it will be a testament to the power of one.
“My mom,” said Isaac Jaramillo, “over the past few years, has been trying to get more involved in the church.”
Which led her to encourage him, his younger brothers and their two friends to volunteer at the parish’s Fiesta Mexicana, a weeklong festival that celebrates the parish’s Hispanic culture.
But Gina Barron-Jaramillo wasn’t done. When the fiesta was over, she approached all five about enrolling in the parish’s Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program.
Edson Barron recalled the exact moment.
“It was kind of a surprise,” he said. “I showed up to work, and she just approached me out of nowhere and said, ‘You start next Tuesday.’”
The brothers and friends participated in the Rite of Election at Most Pure Heart of Mary Church in Topeka on Feb. 18. Usually celebrated around the First and Second Sundays of Lent, the rite is one in which those wishing to be received into the Catholic faith — both those who have been baptized into other Christian traditions (candidates) and those who have never been baptized (catechumens) —stand in the presence of their sponsors, the archdiocesan faith community and the archbishop to express their desire to enter into the full sacramental life of the church.
Two other celebrations were held Feb. 18 and Feb. 21 at Holy Angels Parish in Basehor and Church of the Ascension in Overland Park, respectively.
In total, said Michael Podrebarac, director of the archdiocesan office for liturgy and sacramental life, about 150 catechumens and as many candidates for full communion participated in one of the three ceremonies.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann was the main celebrant at each of the celebrations.
Now that he’s been attending class for several months, Edson said he’s glad he received the nudge he did.
“Personally, if their mom hadn’t gotten me involved, I wouldn’t have come here by myself,” he said.
But participation has brought all sorts of benefits.
“I feel like I’m growing closer to them as a family,” he said.
And he’s looking forward to a lifetime of learning and growing in his Catholic faith.
“It’s not like a race,” he added. “It’s a constant thing in life.”
At 20, Elias Jaramillo is the youngest brother. Although his mother definitely encouraged him, his love of history played a vital role, too.
“For me, Mom was the final push, the push I needed,” he said.
After their parents’ divorce, the three found themselves receiving what Elias termed “mixed messages.”
As they became men, their father told them they were free to choose their own faith.
“I felt like something was missing [in my life],” Elias said.
An avid history buff, he became fascinated with the Catholic Church’s role in developing Western civilization. As he did, he fell in love.
“The Catholic religion — to me, it seemed right,” he said. “I felt like I have a place in the church.”
For Dominic Jaramillo, 25, finding a place is important, but so is becoming the man God wants him to be.
“I came to it on my own,” he said. But his love of his mother as well as his grandmother, Juanita Barron, have certainly been an inspiration.
“My grandma is very into her faith,” he said, adding she prays constantly and often participates in eucharistic adoration.
“Whenever we’re going on a trip, she says, ‘Come see me first. I want to bless you. I want to pray for you,’” he said.
Dominic has dated his girlfriend Miranda Garcia for six years. The two are contemplating marriage.
“I thought it was important that we get married within the church and be able to be married on the altar. I know it would be great,” he said.
He also wants to be a role model for his infant nephew Lorenzo Jaramillo, Isaac’s son.
“Our uncles were always there to guide us on the right path,” Dominic said. “I don’t want him to stray from the faith like we did.”
Isaac Jaramillo agreed. He wants to provide a good example to his almost 6-month-old son.
“I want him to be baptized, make his first holy Communion, and I want him to be part of the church, too,” he said, adding he particularly appreciates the Eucharist.
For Davenport, 19, the sacramental teachings are challenging and beautiful.
“Everything has a meaning behind it,” he said.
Although he was baptized into the Catholic faith as an infant, his sacramental life stopped after that. Given the choice to find his own spiritual path, he tried various churches, but found none as satisfying as the Catholic Church.
“You can count yourself as spiritual and not religious in terms of how you live your life, but practice makes perfect,” he said. “In order to decide what you’re actually going to become, you really need to start practicing and going. . . . The first place to stop is at a Catholic church.”
For Rafael Marin, 26, the Catholic Church was not the first stop on his list.
A catechumen, Marin is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas.
Taught by tribal elders, he practiced religion as outlined by the Kickapoo prophet Kennekuk, which combines Native American traditions with Christian ones.
“The way we’re taught by our elders is to take care of everything around you,” Marin said, something he finds compatible with Catholic teaching.
Married for six years, Marin and his wife Crystal have three children, ages 10 months to 9. He often accompanies the children, his wife and her parents to a Spanish Mass.
“The weird thing is I don’t speak Spanish,” he said.
Marin said if he were to name people who show Christ’s love, hands down it would be his in-laws, Isidrio and Bertha Del Real.
Their love is one reason he felt led to investigate Catholicism.
“I haven’t always made the best decisions growing up,” Marin said. “I figure this is a good journey. This is a good start to a new part of my life.”