Diocesan priest baptizes mom at Easter Vigil

By Father Jack Schrader
Special to The Anchor

EAST SANDWICH, Mass. — Who would have imagined that a priest would baptize his own mother? A man gives Divine life to the woman who gave life to him in the first place. Well, at the Easter Vigil this year at Corpus Christi Parish in East Sandwich, I baptized and confirmed my mother, Diane Schrader, and gave her First Holy Communion. 

Christ is always at work, breaking through the narrow ways we conceive of His presence and “how things should go.” Every now and again His intervention becomes obvious. His breakthrough into my life and the life of my family jumped out at the Easter Vigil as I conferred the Sacraments of Initiation on my mother. The following day, as I proclaimed the Gospel announcement of the Resurrection of Jesus, I was overwhelmed by the presence of the Risen Christ in my life and in the life of my family, after many years of wondering if my mom would ever be Catholic and what my role would be in her journey. 

The Resurrection itself leaps out at us on Easter Sunday, after enduring Lent and pondering the direction of God’s plan on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. I realized that in all the years prior to my mom’s Baptism, as I questioned, wondered, and prayed about my mom becoming Catholic, the Lord God was quietly working, breaking through in unnoticed ways, in order to prepare me and my family for the striking manifestation of His plan at the Easter Vigil. 

My mother received basic Religious Education from the faith community, to which my grandmother belongs, but she never received Christian Baptism. In adolescence and early adulthood, my mother did not belong to any church. After marrying my father, Steven Schrader, a Catholic, she began attending Mass and she supported the Catholic upbringing of me, my sister, and my brother. Nevertheless, she did not feel compelled to convert. So, although she was not a Catholic, my mother has been connected in some way to the Catholic Church for a long time. Actually, my mother’s paternal grandmother, Olga, was a vibrant Catholic and had meaningful impact on my mother during her life and in the decades since she died. My mom has fond childhood memories of going to Catholic Mass with Grandma Olga at St. Anthony’s in Des Moines, Iowa. My mother’s grandmother Olga died before I was born, but my mother has told stories about her for as long as I can remember. 

At my mother’s Baptism, she was wearing a pearl necklace and a ring that Grandma Olga gave to her. Hopefully, Catholic grandparents are inspired by Grandma Olga’s influence on my mother. You may not see the impact you are having on your grandchildren, but if you pour out love on them and are joyful in your faith, they will be brought closer to God. 

During my years of seminary, my mother was very supportive of my vocation. However, it was not until a year after my ordination that she spoke up about her interest in becoming Catholic. I uttered no magical or persuasive words to push her into RCIA. I believe there was a gentle communication between the Lord and my mother that finally gave her the desire to enter the Church. She was supported and nourished by my father, the RCIA team at Corpus Christi Parish, and by Fathers George Harrison and Riley Williams. 

As my mom and I were leaving the parish church after her Baptism, she turned to me with an insight. She remarked that she had not intentionally postponed entering the Church until I was ordained a priest. Now after having been received into the Church by her own son, it made sense why it took her so many years to convert. There could not have been a sweeter way for her, for me or for my family. I was struck again by the surprising intervention of God’s grace according to His time line. His designs come to completion not according to my time line, but according to His timing. As people of faith we are humble and patient before God’s plan. At the moment, there may be situations about which we worry. We’re not sure how things are going to work out. This is where we must put our faith in the Resurrection.

In these days of the Easter season, we have to ask ourselves if the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus has changed the way we approach the unsolved situations in our lives? Have we allowed the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus to influence the way that we consider the unanswered questions we grapple with? 

I hope the story of my mother’s Baptism and initiation into the Church would fill your hearts with hope in the Resurrection. The Risen Jesus blazes the trail to newness life for His followers. United to His Resurrection, we are born again as children of our Heavenly Father. As we follow the Risen Christ on the trail to our Heavenly homeland, we are hopeful that our fidelity to His plan would make known the power of His Resurrection according to His timing. 

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