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ANDOVER -- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus instructs his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.” In his own way, Joe Galluzzo is following that command.
As the coordinator for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in his parish of St. Robert Bellarmine, Galluzzo brings the Church to those who have never been initiated into the faith.
Helping others be initiated into the faith helps him to deepen his own faith, he said.
Galluzzo first became the RCIA coordinator two years ago, after graduating from the Archdiocesan Institute for Ministry (AIM) program. Filled with a desire to help the Church in whatever way he could, Galluzzo asked his pastor, Father Richard T. Conway, how he could be more involved.
According to Galluzzo, when Father Conway asked him to coordinate the RCIA program, he was not even sure exactly what the RCIA was.
“Ours is not a very large parish, so we don’t have too many people who go through the process,” he explained.
In order to learn as much as he could about the RCIA, Galluzzo attended a weeklong training session at the North American Forum on the Catechumenate in Washington, D.C.
Then, armed with as much information as he could gather, and leaning on his years of experience as a religious education teacher, this 52-year-old jumped right in.
“For me it’s been absolutely wonderful to be a part of another person’s entrance into the Church,” commented Galluzzo. “Initiation is about relationship; it is about formation. It is about belief and it is about light.”
Aside from coordinating the parish’s RCIA program, Galluzzo also helps in the parish’s faith formation program -- Generations of Faith -- where parishioners of all ages come together each month to deepen their understanding of the Catholic faith.
“In a nutshell, living my faith happens by coming to better understand who I am called to be, and out of that understanding, by doing what I ought to do,” he said. “And as I have experienced through the RCIA and Generations of Faith, that can only happen in community.”
“I have come to learn that living out my faith is not based on a ‘me’ relationship with the Lord,” continued Galluzzo. “Rather, it has everything to do with all of the people with whom I interact every day, be they from my family, the St. Robert’s community, my employees ... or with anyone who might be somehow connected to any of them either directly, indirectly or by association.”
“I wouldn’t be anywhere as involved if I didn’t believe that my faith has a direct impact on my life,” Galluzzo said.
Galluzzo, a Woburn native, and his wife first became parishioners at St. Robert Bellarmine Parish 30 years ago when they moved to Andover. They have raised three children in Andover and he is about to become a grandfather for the first time.
According to Galluzzo, the parish has seen a surge in growth in recent years -- something he attributes to his pastor, Father Conway.
“The parish is totally alive right now, and that is a direct result of our pastor,” he said. Because Father Conway is “such a fabulous liturgist and homilist,” people from surrounding towns have begun to attend Mass at St. Robert’s, he said.
“Father Rick brings a culture that’s infectious,” he said. “He’s very dynamic.”