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Family shares the joy of Easter Vigil baptism for Valparaiso father and son

baptism father & son 1

Michael Van Voorhis (center) holds his three-month-old son Noah near the sactuary of St. Teresa of Avila in Valparaiso, and sits near his wife Jennifer Van Voorhis (right) and sponsor David Berdovich on April 4. Michael and Noah will be baptised together at the Easter Vigil. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

 

by MARLENE A. ZLOZA

Northwest Indiana Catholic

 

      VALPARAISO – When three-month-old Noah VanVoorhis is baptized during this weekend’s Easter Vigil services at St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center, his father Michael VanVoorhis will know exactly what his son is experiencing – because he will be baptized into the Catholic faith at the same time.

      “I can’t even explain what it means to me – to be able to come into the Church at the same time as my son,” Michael VanVoorhis said recently as he completed Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes with his sponsor, David Berdovich, a St. Teresa parishioner.

      Witnessing the double baptism will be plenty of family members, led by wife-and-mother Jennifer VanVoorhis, a cradle Catholic who is overjoyed. “I’m very excited and very proud that Mike decided to be baptized, and that he gets to do it with Noah is very special,” she said. “The timing was perfect.”

      Michael VanVoorhis admitted that the first time he attended Mass with Jennifer and her family, on Christmas Eve 2015, while they were dating, “I hated it, because I didn’t know when to stand, when to kneel, when to sing. I felt so uncomfortable that I didn’t go back until Easter, and then the more I went, the more comfortable I felt.

      “I was comfortable with Jen’s family and their friends being around me at Mass, and I began talking about going through RCIA the next year,” he recalled of 2017, the year the couple married. “I made the call while we were waiting for Noah to be born” VanVoorhis said of his journey of faith. “My grandmother in LaPorte is Catholic, and my mother was baptized a Catholic. I went to church until I was 6, and then maybe 6-8 times in my life until I met Jen. Now that I’m passionate about (the Catholic faith), it’s a really cool feeling and it will be so meaningful to be able to receive Comm with my family and my in-laws.”

      The double baptism is definitely a family affair, noted Jennifer VanVoorhis, with her brother and sister, Thomas Lyons and Brooke Lyons, serving as Noah’s godparents.

      Michael VanVoorhis is even hoping another family member joins him soon. “My mom is a Lutheran, but she’s been talking about coming back to the Catholic Church, and once she sees Noah - who has her wrapped around his little finger - baptized, and me receiving Comm, maybe that will convince her.”

      Michael VanVoorhis’ RCIA sponsor, David Berdovich, who had been baptized but didn’t practice his Catholic faith as a youth, remembers receiving the sacraments of reconciliation, Holy Comm and confirmation 30 years ago in preparation for marriage.

      “I volunteered to be a sponsor,” he explained of his first-time role. “I felt I’d been called to do this for a while. It was such a moving experience when I went through (receiving the sacraments), and working with Mike reminds me of when I went through it. I’m learning more about our faith, and meeting with everyone in the RCIA program every week has been a blessing.”

      VanVoorhis said the scrutinies, three rites of self-searching and prayer by the elect that take place on successive Sundays in front of the congregation as the elect progress in their perception of sin and their desire for salvation, “have been really touching. At the first one, I had been sick and I was worried, but when Father Chris (Stanish, pastor at St. Teresa) put his hands on me, I didn’t feel sick anymore. I’d thought ‘It can’t be that powerful,’ but it was.”

      VanVoorhis also said that attending the Rite of Election on March 10 at Holy Angels Cathedral has been the most meaningful part of his baptismal preparations. “I just walked around the church with Mark (Fedor, RCIA coordinator at St. Teresa of Avila) after the ceremony. We were the last people to leave. “It’s a beautiful church,” VanVoorhis said.

      “I never saw myself in this position, being able to share my faith with others,” admitted Fedor at the Rite of Election. “The most important thing about the RCIA is forgiveness. There’s a place for you in the Church no matter where you are coming from or where you are going.”

 

baptism faher & son 2

Michael Van Voorhis holds his three-month-old son Noah near the baptismal font at St. Teresa of Avila in Valparaiso on April 4. The Valparaiso residents will be baptised at the Easter Vigil after Michael was influenced by his wife Jennifer Van Voorhis, a cradle Catholic, to learn about the Church and become part of a religious organization for the first time in his life. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)

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