A discussion on Facebook on God's sovereignty and healings sparked a chain of events that led Kenneth Wingate to think of joining the Catholic Church. An acquaintance he had begun enjoying corresponding with inspired him and challenged him to strengthen his faith. His Facebook "penpal" had been raised Catholic and impressed him so much with Catholics’ devotion to their faith and family, that Ken decided to contact his local Catholic church and discuss how he might join. Seven months later, the 51-year-old Pentecostal Christian is now a candidate for full communion at St. Mary's Church in Rockville, Maryland.
A man of strong Christian faith, Ken also embarked on a Catholic volunteer opportunity overseas before he completed the RCIA process. He spent three weeks in a suburb of Jakarta, Indonesia, performing volunteer work at a Catholic school located in a country with the largest concentration of Muslims in the world.
The RCIA coordinators from the parish worked with Ken providing him with materials related to the lessons he would miss while serving God half-way around the globe. The parish’s RCIA focus from January up to the start of Lent is a systematic examination of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Ken made arrangements for an Indonesian Catholic priest to tutor him (along with the reading of the complete sacraments section in the Catholic Catechism for Adults) on the sacraments while he performed his volunteer work.
When asked about why he enrolled on a mission opportunity before completing his Christian initiation, Ken says it was all in God’s plan.
“An opportunity arose for me to do this volunteer work. Having never really been out of this country, the idea of traveling half way around the world interested me,” he says. “Again, God knew what He was doing. I left there with a far greater revelation of my own heart and character than I gave to those I met.”
One surprising outcome of his experience was a deeper appreciation of Islam and of Muslim’s devotion and commitment to prayer.
A faithful and devoted member of the Pentecostal Church since birth, Ken is now days away from becoming a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church, and emotions are running high.
“I could write a book about it. Though I have stayed faithful to my beliefs and the studying of the Holy Scriptures, I had experienced a dark time in my life over the last ten years. I knew I needed a more disciplined structure in my spiritual community and the RCIA program, along with the Catholic Church's solid foundation of faith, has met that need,” Ken said.
A highlight in the process was experiencing the sacrament of reconciliation for the first time.
“I had my first confession on April 13. I cannot express the power of the Holy Spirit’s presence I have felt in my life since leaving the confessional that night. It has been humbling and amazing! I pray that this experience will be the first of many in my continued growth in God through the family of the Catholic Church.”
Special thanks to Georgina Stark, of the Archdiocese of Washington, for the tip.