On the afternoon of Saturday, April 30, 8-year-old C.J. Reich made his first Communion at Saint Maximilian Kolbe Parish in Marmora.
It was a graced moment for C.J.; his parents Christine “Chrissy” and Eric; siblings Cooper, 6, and Riley, 4; and relatives, and it was made even more special because little more than a month earlier, on the March 26 Easter Vigil, his father, Eric, entered the Catholic Church, receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Msgr. Peter Joyce, Saint Maximilian Kolbe’s pastor, was present for both Eric at the Easter Vigil and C.J.’s first Communion.
“It was wonderful to see in Eric’s face the joy of what his son was receiving” at his first Communion, Msgr. Joyce said.
Eric’s journey to the Catholic faith began after he married his wife, Chrissy, nine years ago.
“I was baptized into the Methodist Church in Sea Isle City (at a young age), and Chrissy was raised Catholic, going to Catholic schools from Pre-K to college,” he said.
As the Seaville residents created a family, they made a commitment to raise their children in the Catholic tradition. They were all baptized and currently attend Bishop McHugh Regional School in Cape May Court House (C.J. in second grade, Cooper in kindergarten, and Riley in PreK-3).
Through the years, converting to Catholicism was in Eric’s mind.
“I thought about it. I go to church every Sunday, my kids go to Catholic school,” he said.
As well, he saw the quality Catholic education his children were receiving at Bishop McHugh.
“I saw the way the kids were growing up and being taught at school, and it was very convincing that the school was developing great children,” he said.
Last September, Eric began attending once-a-week RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes at the parish.
Both he and Chrissy note that never she, nor her family, pressured him to enter the Catholic Church.
“I knew that if he wanted to do it, he would come to that decision on his own,” she said, a fact that made her husband’s conversion more meaningful.
C.J. was “very excited” for he and his father’s big days, Eric said, and the two prepared together, becoming study buddies and frequently quizzing each other.
As Msgr. Joyce first guided Eric, and later C.J., in the reception of the Holy Eucharist, he called it a “privilege to witness the faith journey of the entire family.”
“This is a wonderful example of a conscious effort by parents to instill the Catholic faith by word and example. There is a true sincerity and genuineness to Chrissy and Eric,” he said.
For the Reichs, already a “close-knit family,” Chrissy said, the past few months have strengthened their bond as a household for the Lord.
“It’s even more special when we are all together as a family, in communion with the Catholic Church,” she said.