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placeholder March 18, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Home, at last
Change had come

Elaine Dilling, left, and Stacey Kronmal at St. Michael Church in Livermore on the day of the Rite of Sending.
Courtesy photo

Stacey Kronmal came to church for a badge. Or, more precisely, she came to church on a Scout Sunday to see her son get a badge.

Something unexpected happened to the woman who wasn't exactly pleased that the Cub Scout leader included prayer at meetings.

"When I saw the priest do the Liturgy of the Eucharist, I was just amazed how the bread and wine became — actually became — the body and blood of Christ," she said.

Her sponsor — Tina Gregory, that Cub Scout leader — told parishioners at St. Michael Church at the Rite of Sending: "Her heart beat faster, her skin erupted in goose bumps and her eyes pooled in tears. Intellectually, she had no idea what was going on, but her heart did."

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Kronmal knew. "He was there in that church. Christ was acting through the priest. I'd never known any of that," she said. "Now I know it was the Holy Spirit."

From that moment, she said, "I couldn't get enough of church."

She went along this way for a couple of years. After a time, however, being an observer was not enough.

"I started craving the Eucharist," she said. "I wanted to consume the body and blood of Christ. I wanted to get as close to Christ as I could."

With Gregory as her guide, they settled on St. Michael Parish. Its year-round RCIA program "was a perfect, perfect fit for us."

The dedicated student has spent about two years in RCIA, a time period that has tested her patience. "I'm the type of person," she said. "I like to hurry and rush."

As a former middle school English teacher, "I was all about the intellectual," she said. "I thought I knew everything."

Her initial disappointment over not entering the church last Easter has eased. "I realize I was not ready," she said. "It's not about the intellectual, it's about faith."

While some of her friends have found her unavailability for events, especially during Lent, as she prepares for the Easter Vigil, to be troubling, Kronmal has found wonderful support from her parents and her husband.

"My husband has been unbelievably supportive," she said.

One of the milestones in her journey of faith was the convalidation of their marriage.

When they were wed 15 years ago, neither was a church-goer. A church wedding was not considered.

"We would have felt hypocritical," she said. They celebrated their wedding at a winery, and a friend, who was ordained for one day, for one wedding, performed the ceremony.

The convalidation ceremony, performed by Father Robert Mendonça in the chapel at St. Michael, was memorable for the couple. "It was so unbelievably beautiful," she said. Their son, two witnesses and some members of the RCIA group came to the ceremony.

"He blessed our rings, which we'd never done before," she said.

"Having the marriage convalidated was such a profound part of the process," she said. "I thought that it would be a hoop to jump through. It was anything but that."

Kronmal said she is involving her son, now 12, slowly, as she enters the church, inviting him to participate in Advent candle-lighting and alms-giving during Lent.

As she awaits the day she will receive the sacraments, Kronmal is clear: "I have fallen in love with Jesus. I've fallen in love with the Catholic Church."

"I cannot wait to go out and evangelize," she said. "And bring people along with me."

"I'm a sassy person. I use a lot of humor," she said. She hopes the Holy Spirit will work through her humor.

"I imagine the Holy Spirit beaming through my fingertips and the ends of my hair," she said.

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