.- A convert to Catholicism who lives in California will be one of seven people baptized by Pope Benedict XVI during the Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Ceres, California resident Heidi Sierras, 29, completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at St. Joseph’s parish in Modesto last year. But through a series of connections—a parishioner who knew a nun at the Vatican—Sierras was chosen for an open spot for a North American to be baptized by the Pope at the 2009 vigil.
Sierras told the Modesto Bee there was never any question whether she would make the trip to Rome.
“It's incredible," she commented. "I feel like, 'Why me?' I felt undeserving. But how could I say no to that? It's an incredible opportunity.”
“It's almost like I'm going to be baptized by Jesus himself. It's an incredible feeling,” said Serras, who will also receive her First Communion from Pope Benedict.
Her husband Dan was also enthusiastic.
"To say I'm excited would be an understatement," he told the Modesto Bee. "It's unbelievable that she's going to be baptized by the Pope, considering there are only seven people selected in the world. I'm extremely happy because it's a true blessing, what she's going to experience.
Sierras reported that she did not attend church as a child, but her husband Dan was raised as a Catholic. He began attending Mass more frequently about three years ago, with Mrs. Sierras accompanying him.
She decided she wanted to know more about the Catholic faith and signed up for RCIA classes.
Serras will be accompanied to Rome by St. Joseph’s pastor Fr. Joseph Illo, RCIA instructor Stacy Phillips and about 40 other parishioners.
The seven people whom the Pope baptizes every Easter in Rome are chosen to represent the seven continents of the globe and the universality of the Church.