|March 18, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 6 • Oakland, CA|
Home, at last
A prayer answered
"Say a little prayer for me," Elaine Dilling said to her son-in-law, David Ruth, when he was initiated into the Catholic Church last Easter Vigil at St. Michael Church in Livermore.
He asked her, "Have you ever been baptized?"
When she answered no, he replied, "You need to be."
"I took the bait," Ruth said. He consulted Louise Ridsdale, RCIA director of St. Michael, to see how they might be able to make this journey.
Commuting from her East Bay home to classes in Livermore was not practical for the woman in her 80s who does not drive. Ridsdale put together a home-study catechism course for Dilling — with her son-in-law as catechist.
"I always wanted to be in the church," Dilling said. "But I kept it to myself."
As Elaine Dilling looks forward to receiving the sacraments at Easter, she is grateful to Father Robert Mendonça, to RCIA director Louise Ridsdale, to catechumenate coordinator Marjorie Melendez, to Lisa Malone of the catechumenate team — and to everyone at St. Michael parish who has helped her get to this day.
Dillings' gratitude to David Ruth, a man he has known for more than 20 years, is boundless.
"David is so loyal," she said. "He reads every line to me."
Elaine Dilling's eyesight is fading. An array of magnifying glasses and glasses on her kitchen table are of little help when it comes to reading these days. She had loved to read.
On Thursday nights, Ruth leaves work in Oakland and travels to his mother-in-law's house. For three hours, they study the catechism before he goes home to Livermore.
"I couldn't ask for a better son-in-law," she said.
He supplements the reading with tapes. Dilling keeps her TV tuned to EWTN programming. A sticker book of the saints, with nice big pictures, has helped to supplement the curriculum. Even though she can't read it, her mother's Bible is on a table.
Her journey to the church has been a long one. Born at home in Oakland, she was not raised with religion.
"I knew Jesus," she said. "I just wasn't a Catholic."
She has worked as a crossing guard and as a yard duty supervisor at St. Joachim School in Hayward. But she had not joined the church.
She attends St. John the Baptist Church in San Lorenzo with a neighbor sometimes, and looks forward to using newly acquired Paratransit services to get her where she needs to be.
She has felt welcome at St. Michael, and delighted to know that she could, at Communion time, approach the altar with arms folded across her chest, for a blessing. It made her feel included.
At the Rite of Sending at St. Michael, she enjoyed meeting her fellow traveler, Stacey Kronmal, and other parishioners who offered their prayers and assistance.
Health problems can sometimes get a person down. "I feel a little isolated, like I'm carrying the world on my shoulders," Dilling said.
Her faith journey has helped in that direction. "I don't feel that,'' she said. "I am uplifted."
"I feel like I have something," she said.
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