By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
Four hundred forty-eight individuals who are in preparation to enter the Catholic Church were recognized and welcomed at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion ceremonies at St. Michael Church March 8 and the Cathedral of the Assumption March 9.
The annual ceremonies are celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz and acknowledge the individuals’ preparation and readiness to enter the church at the Easter Vigil on April 19 or at other ceremonies this year.
Men, women and children from 62 parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Louisville have been participating in a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Two groups of people have been involved in this process — catechumens and candidates.
Catechumens are those who have never been baptized. These individuals sign their names to the Book of Elect, which is presented to the archbishop by a parish representative. By signing their names to the book, the participants state they intend to enter the Catholic faith through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. There were 158 catechumens recognized at the two ceremonies this weekend.
Candidates are individuals who have been baptized in another Christian tradition. This group will enter the church through the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist. There are 290 candidates.
During his homily at St. Michael Church, Archbishop Kurtz acknowledged that many of those gathered might be asking, “How come we are here? How come the archbishop is here?”
“It’s very important. The foundation, the source of our church is the person of Jesus Christ,” he said.
The archbishop recalled that in the Gospel reading, Jesus said he was the vine and people are the branches. That means, he said, that the church needs to be connected to the vine of Christ.
“As imperfect as we are, the church in Christ is holy and you are part of that holiness,” said Archbishop Kurtz.
He said the Rite of Election is about saying something. First, there are words from the church and then words from those preparing to enter into the Catholic faith.
“The church today announces officially that you have begun your preparation to enter into the mystery of Christ. … You have been chosen,” he explained.
The archbishop recalled a story from a man who participated in a previous Rite of Election and stated he was only joining the church because his wife wanted him to do so.
“I said that was enough to get you here but it’s not enough to keep you here,” he said. “We need to have a free decision to say ‘Yes, I want to invite Christ into my life.’ ”
“We need the rest of the season of Lent to let the grace of Christ enter every corner of our life so that, come Easter, we can declare with confidence ‘Alleluia, Christ is risen.’ ”
Archbishop Kurtz recalled that one of the last things Jesus said to his apostles was, “I call you friends.” The archbishop said friendship in Jesus is the glue that keeps the church together.
“You who are coming into the church, Christ is counting on you. I don’t know exactly what Christ has prepared for you,” he said. “I know that there are things that are on the threshold of your lives in which you can be Christ for others.
“You and I are called, not to hide our light under a bushel basket, but to show our light to the world.”