Rite of Election marks continuing journey of 329 persons toward communion with the Catholic Church
There is a personal story behind the decision of each of the 329 persons who will enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this year.
At two separate liturgies called the Rite of Election – one March 5 at St. Joseph Church in New Orleans and the other March 6 at Most Holy Trinity Church in Covington – Archbishop Gregory Aymond thanked the prospective Catholics for both listening and responding to God’s call.
“We all have a story, and that story is continuing to unfold and tell us about our relationship with others and with God,” Archbishop Aymond said at St. Joseph Church. “We are privileged to enter into it today (with you).”
In the two liturgies, a total of 176 “catechumens” (those who have not been baptized in any religion) and 153 “candidates” (those who already have been baptized) will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil in their individual church parishes.
Before greeting each person at the foot of the altar, Archbishop Aymond said he hoped the catechumens and candidates would use the remaining time before Easter to continue their studies as a powerful Lenten retreat.
Continuing to prepare
“For many months you have been giving yourself to prayer, asking God for wisdom and courage to say ‘yes’ to the invitation, and you have also been studying the Scriptures and the teaching of the church,” Archbishop Aymond said. “Today you make a public commitment to continue this time of preparation. We see this remainder of Lent to be a time of retreat, not in a hermitage or a retreat house, but in a prayerful way (through their parish studies).”
Katherine Wright, 25, had one of those interesting stories to which the archbishop referred. She had moved to New Orleans last summer and had completed about two months in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program at Transfiguration of the Lord Parish in New Orleans.
Went back home
But when Wright’s mother and grandmother each had surgery, Wright felt the need to return to her home in Georgia to be with them.
That’s when Deacon Pete Rizzo thought of using technology to keep the RCIA flame burning.
Over the last several months, Wright has connected for one-hour, weekly lessons via Skype with one of Transfiguration’s four teachers – Deacons Rizzo and Lloyd Huck, School Sister of Notre Dame Elizabeth Willems and Dominican Sister of Peace Rosemary Hoppe.
“I was OK with continuing the lessons without being able to actually complete a baptism this year, but I wanted to pursue it and finish the lessons properly,” Wright said. “But I was able to do that with everyone’s help.”
Wright does her weekly reading in preparation for the Skype session, and the connection has gone off basically without a hitch.
“We’ve had some Skype blips, but usually we’re able to fix it within the same day where we’ve needed a couple of minutes to get everything synced back up,” Wright said. “I feel very honored because there is so much diversity in the teaching methods, and I feel like I’m getting a lot out of it.”
Wright’s father was Baptist and her mother was Catholic, but her mother left the church when Wright was a child.
“I really wanted to learn more about the Catholic Church and how it worked because it makes the most sense as far as Christian denominations go,” she said. “I’ve always been a Christian and I’ve always believed that Jesus is my savior, but I didn’t really have a firm foundation because my parents went around to different churches a lot when I was a child.”
Wright was so excited about last Sunday’s Rite of Election that she took a 10-hour “Megabus” ride from Atlanta. “It was only $5 on the way here and $10 on the way back,” she said, smiling.
“I’m very nervous, but it’s exciting,” she added. “I don’t like being in front of people.
While she will finish up her classes via Skype, she will be at Transfiguration in the flesh for the Easter Vigil April 15.
“I’m going to do it here,” Wright said.
Skype can’t do everything.
Peter Finney Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.