By Marnie McAllister, Record Editor
There’s no such thing as second-hand faith, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told men, women and children preparing to enter the Catholic Church.
He was addressing 376 individuals March 10 at the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at St. Bernadette Church.
“You gotta have an experience and encounter with Jesus, personally,” the archbishop told them. “You deserve a first-hand faith.”
Among his listeners were 185 catechumens — people who have never been baptized. They have been preparing for the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, which they will receive this spring.
The congregation also included 191 candidates — people who were baptized in another Christian tradition. Their baptisms are recognized by the Catholic Church. They will receive the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist this spring.
About 48 parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville were represented at the event. The parishes have been preparing the catechumens and candidates since late summer or fall.
Throughout their preparation, the catechumens and candidates have been like apprentices, said Maureen Larison, consultant for adult formation and initiation for the archdiocese.
“The whole parish and the catechumens and candidates are meant to work side-by-side, just as an apprentice and master do,” said Larison during an interview prior to the March 10 event.
“You don’t say, ‘Watch me’ or ‘Let me tell you all the things it means to be Catholic.’ It means, let me walk with you,” she said.
In that way, she said quoting a popular saying after the Second Vatican Council, “Faith is caught, not taught.”
“It is both,” she said, “but it’s more caught than taught.”
“To be Catholic is not just to know things, but to learn how to follow Jesus Christ. We’re not just teaching a set of beliefs,” she added.
“Being Catholic isn’t belonging to a club. It’s who we are — we belong to God, we belong to the Body of Christ. That’s what we’re initiating people into — that reality. We’re becoming who God called us to be.”
Michelle Diener, a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church in La Grange, Ky., said she was interested in going to church since she was a young child.
During an interview prior to the March 10 Rite of Election, she explained that she is Jewish and married a Catholic more than two decades ago.
“I’ve always been drawn to it, always,” she said.
Asked why she decided to become Catholic now, she pointed her index finger toward the heavens and said, “The joy I get knowing I’m building a relationship
with God and Jesus.”
Archbishop Kurtz, during his homily, said that relationship is essential and so is living it within community.
“I am the vine, you are the branches,” he said quoting Scripture. “I want to be a branch that is alive.”
The closer the branches or the individual is to Christ, he said, the closer one draws to others.
“Christ will impel you to think of others,” he explained.
Drawing laughter, he also urged his listeners to step forward and live their faith by the initials of “a very expensive car I will never own — a BMW.”
“B,” he said, is for belief. “We need to be united in our belief.”
“M” is for morality. We should “live our faith in the way we make decisions.”
And “W” is for worship, he concluded. “The central part of your faith is the Eucharist.”
The archbishop concluded his homily by urging the catechumens and candidates to pray for one another.