The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion of catechumens and candidates, respectively, was celebrated at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, on Feb. 18, where the catechumens and candidates voiced their desire to join Christ and His Church.
Catechumens, those who are unbaptized, are now preparing to receive all of the sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist – at the Easter Vigil Mass on the night of March 31.
Candidates, those who are already baptized, are preparing to complete their initiation. They will renew their baptismal vows and will then receive the sacraments of Communion and confirmation.
Coming from parishes throughout the diocese, the catechumens and candidates were joined by their godparents or sponsors and presented for recognition to Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades. The catechumens’ names were presented in the “Book of Elect” in a part of the rite called the Enrollment of Names, after which they became known as “the Elect.” Between now and the Easter Vigil Masses, they will undergo at their parishes the final, intense preparation for the reception of the sacraments of initiation.
In his homily, Bishop Rhoades spoke of the Gospel reading in which Jesus said, “I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.” Looking out over the congregation, he went on to remind everyone of how “Jesus was sent by the Father into a fallen world. He is the shining light that dispels the darkness of sin. Jesus invites all people to believe in Him and receive the gift of eternal life, which the Father offers through Him. Those who believe and receive this gift, Jesus once said, “will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
He went on to speak of how the presence of Jesus provokes two different responses in people, some being negative resulting in choosing darkness over a positive response that results in walking in the light of Jesus Himself. He also addressed an important question that the catechumens and candidates may have already, or will be, asked: “Why are you becoming Catholic?”
Aaron Schoon, a catechumen of St. Paul of the Cross in Columbia City, said that he chose Catholicism after spending many years with his Catholic wife and bringing up their five children in the faith. But the biggest influence for him to become Catholic was, “After growing up Protestant, seeing the Catholic perspective on many things that [I] grew up to believe as heresy.”
Megan Heimann, a candidate from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, said she chose to complete her initiation into the Church because of “the heritage, tradition and like the Bishop said during his homily, there’s truth to it. There’s something sacred in Catholicism that I haven’t found in any other church.”
Also from the University of Saint Francis, candidate Abigail Truex said she wanted to fully embrace the Catholic faith because of her father. “When he would talk to me about it, it just made sense.” Truex went on to say that the biggest influence for her was the people within it. “They’ve helped to get me where I am today.”
Bishop Rhoades touched on some of their motivations in his homily, by saying, “My advice to you today is that you continue to pursue truth by studying and pondering the great mysteries of our faith; that you pursue a life of goodness and virtue, especially through works of mercy and love, seeking holiness, following the beautiful example of Mary and the saints; and that you seek beauty. Beauty stirs the soul. Yes, there’s the beauty of Catholic art and music and literature. But there’s also the beauty of spiritual truths that touch us.”
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