TOP: Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis greets Dusty, back left, Addison, Brooklyn, and Julie Clements during the election rally and call for continued conversion in the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn., February 18. Far right is Dalton Renteria, Julie's son and Dusty's stepson. All five are catechumens from the birth of our Lord in St. Paul. (Dave Hrbacek / CNS, on the Catholic Spirit)
By Dave Hrbacek
Catholic News Service
ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) ̵
"We walked around the back, I just looked at the back and it was very, very cool looking," said the 18-year-old, who asked his family to take a closer look with him.
"The light hit it was perfect because it did not seem over the cross, but it was just perfect behind it," he said. "So it looked like the cross was in the middle of the light and it was very symbolic."
Dalton, who has not grown up with a crucifix in his house, is a catechumen in the rite of the Christian initiation of adults program at the birth of our Lord in St. Paul. He joins the church with his mother, stepfather and twin sisters on March 31st during Easter Eve.
The Cathar experience had a strong influence on him and deepened his joy and excitement for completing his journey to the Catholic Church. His visit on February 18 was part of the RCIA process for the election rite and call for continued conversion, during which the family was presented to Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Dalton had to fly in for the rite; He lives with his father in Washington. His mother and stepfather, Julie and Dusty Clements, and his twin sisters, Addison and Brooklyn, moved from Idaho to St. Paul last summer. Dalton, who had lived with them, decided to stay in the West with his father.
The family's move to Minnesota played a providential role in the family's decision to become Catholic. Dusty, 41, did not grow up in the church on a regular basis, while Julie, 40, grew up in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but stopped practicing the faith in the late 1990s. However, when he was living in Idaho, where Dusty worked at Boise State University, the couple decided to find a church.
"We did not know which way we would go, we just knew that we wanted that (church) in our lives," said Julie The Catholic Spirit the archdiocese. "We both felt it was good – good for the kids, good for our family."
They still looked when Dusty started a fundraising job for the University of Minnesota.
Before moving, he said Minnesota acquaintance he was looking for a school for his first-class girls and a parish to join. This acquaintance recommended the birth of Christ for both. This prompted Julie to call the crèche of our Catholic headmistress, Mrs. Wollan, a few weeks before the start of the school year
An hour-long phone call to Wollan made her anxious to take in the girls there. After the move, the school served as a natural channel to bring the faith into their home.
"The children were like sponges with everything, such as faith and Jesus," said Julie, who works in the sales department. "Addison would start praying the Lord's Prayer, they do not say that in the Mormon Church, we never raised the Lord's Prayer, it's a pretty big prayer for a six-year-old to come home and recite."
Julie took then join her daughters for a Saturday evening show in the manger in early September. It was a first for her. "I loved it, I went to the Nativity, and I was in awe."
Her daughters were also fascinated by the experience, and Julie and Dusty decided that their family would persecute RCIA. Shortly thereafter, they called Dalton and talked to him about joining the Church. He quickly agreed, having visited Mass with his Catholic girlfriend before moving from Idaho to Washington.
RCIA Director of Nativity Randy Mueller has affiliated some families of the Catholic Church, but this one is the largest.
"It's nice to see because they're excited to find a community they can come to as a family," he said. "They really feel that it makes a difference in their lives, it really brings them together as a family."
"I'm excited," Julie said, noting that the other family members were. "It's a big step for all of us."
The only thing missing is the first communion for the girls. Dusty and Julie decided that Addison and Brooklyn would wait until next year when they were in second grade so they could receive the sacrament with their classmates.
That did not dampen the enthusiasm of the twins. "I'm really excited because we're in God's family," Brooklyn said.
Addison added, "I'm so excited that I can blow up."
Dusty has studied faith and prepared for Easter night he already noticed a difference in his life.
"It was a great help to us," he said. "For me, moments at work or otherwise, you can think about things that you learn by faith, which helps you to carry through … I think it is better prepared for what lies ahead . "
Dave Hrbacek works for THE CATHOLIC SPIRIT, a newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.