By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
The Archdiocese of Louisville recognized 464 people who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church this Easter during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion ceremonies held Feb. 13 at St. Gabriel Church and Feb. 14 at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
During this rite, the church formally welcomes the catechumens — those who have never been baptized — and candidates — those baptized in another Christian tradition — who have been preparing to enter the church through a program known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
These individuals — representing 53 parishes — will enter the church at the Easter Vigil on March 26 or during other liturgies throughout the year.
Two hundred 14 catechumens will enter the faith through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
There are 250 candidates. Their baptism will be recognized by the church and they will receive the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
Both ceremonies were celebrated by Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz. Assisting him was Deacon Aurelio Puga of St. Rita Church, who provided some translation for Spanish-speakers.
At St. Gabriel, the archbishop called the occasion “a great day in the life of the church” and noted the timing was special because Pope Francis was currently in Mexico on his much-anticipated papal trip.
“It’s a great event for us to be gathered as a church,” he said.
During his homily, the archbishop asked all those gathered to say their parish name at the count of three. What resulted was a joyous, jumbled amalgamation of parishes throughout Central Kentucky.
The archbishop said those parish names are important because “parish life is going to grow as you are committed to the parish.”
“What a wonderful gift to Christ and to the church. We are grateful because this is an expression of the local church,” he said.
The archbishop noted that people often think the local church is a particular parish, but actually the local church is the diocese.
In the Archdiocese of Louisville, Archbishop Kurtz said, there are 110 parishes in 24 counties. He noted the archdiocese stretches from the Ohio River to the Tennessee border.
“We are also part of the universal church, which is why I mentioned how grateful I am our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is now in the Americas,” he said.
Whether talking about the local or universal church, Archbishop Kurtz urged his listeners to not forget “we all belong to Christ.”
He recalled the day’s Gospel passage from John, which read: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”
“I’m smart enough to know that when you look at the vine, the branches are all connected,” he said. “In fact, it’s a sorry day for the branch that gets cut off from the vine, because it doesn’t last very long.”
It’s a special thing, Archbishop Kurtz said, to be chosen by God.
“The gift of faith is a precious gift. We should never take it for granted. … God has a plan — a plan for you and me.”