A Catholic friend on the Internet had advised me to avoid going through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Sue and I and the three of our children who intended to become Catholics were, after all, already Christians. We were not catechumens. In traditional Catholic practice, we were Christians who had never been in full communion with the Church - but because we were baptised, we were Christians. We would, in fact, be received in the The Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the full Communion of the Catholic Church.
My friend's reasons, however, were not of this technical nature. We were well educated in the Christian faith. We knew the Catholic faith (or thought we did) from personal study. We ought, my friend said, to be received privately, by discussion with a priest.
This might, after all, have been done. I was not in favour of being received into the Church that way.
It was clear from talking with Father Jude that he expected us to go through RCIA. I told my friend that I had spent the first twenty-odd years of my Christian life doing my own thing. I was determined, in becoming a Catholic, to do what the Church said - even in matters such as this which were not dogmatic. It was time for me to learn some docility.
RCIA was quite an experience. I do think that my friend was correct when it came to the question whether RCIA would give us any information about Catholicism that we did not already have. It did not. The wonderful Sister Margarita (if I have her name spelt correctly) was the leader of our programme, which began, I think, in August or September, 1995. We met Sunday evenings, and each of us had a sponsor - a member of the parish who was there to be our friend and guide. There were two other candidates for entry into the Church - both of them wives of non-practising Catholics. Both (eventually, in one case) entered the Church; neither, sadly, has persisted in Catholic practice to this day.
The five Jensens were, perhaps, a little bit overwhelming for the rest. Sue and I were adults, of course. Helen was virtually so (18). Eddie (15) and Adele (13) were certainly not shrinking violets. Jensens talk ... quite a lot.
We were scheduled to be received into the Church on Sunday, 24 December, 1995 - but that depended on the question whether our marriage was valid. Our marriage was not valid if I was, in fact, still married to Edna. The marriage tribunal in San Francisco was the court that had to decide.
On Friday 22 December the decision arrived - by Telex. My first marriage had not been valid (on the grounds of lack of due discretion - a short way of saying I had no real idea of what I was doing). Sue's and my marriage was valid Christian (sacramental) marriage. (Our marriage was not yet licit - meaning that it had not been undertaken according to the law of the Church; it was made licit shortly after our reception by a marriage blessing by Father).
Saturday 23 December was a day of retreat - prayer and meditation - and, for each of us, our first general Confession.