HARTFORD – In a moving liturgical celebration at the Cathedral of St. Joseph on Feb. 17, 209 participants from 59 parishes took important steps in their journeys of faith.
The Rite of Election welcomed 72 catechumens – students of the Catholic faith who have not yet been baptized – to express their intention "to enter fully into the life of the Church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist," in the words of an oath administered by Archbishop Henry J. Mansell.
The catechumens, accompanied by their godparents, then approached the altar and signed their names in the Book of the Elect. They will complete their initiation into the Catholic faith during the Easter Vigil Mass on March 30.
A second ceremony, the Call to Continuing Conversion, welcomed 137 candidates – those baptized in the Catholic faith or another Christian faith but who have not yet received the sacraments of confirmation or Eucharist. Of these, 62 had been baptized in another Christian faith and 75 had been baptized Catholic.
After the candidates’ sponsors and members of the assembly publicly vouched for them, Archbishop Mansell recited: "The Church recognizes your desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a place at Christ’s eucharistic table. Join with us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant."
The candidates will receive the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil Mass.
In his homily, Archbishop Mansell cited Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Eph 1:18-19), reminding the congregation that rich rewards await God’s faithful followers. "Thank you for being his disciples," he said. "We deeply appreciate all that you are and all that you are doing."
Archbishop Mansell also spoke of Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise announcement that he would resign the papacy at the end of February. "We pray for him now as he goes into what he called a period of prayer," he said.
Bryan Vasser, a catechumen from St. Gabriel Parish in Milford, said he is anxious to complete his sacraments. He said, "My wife is Catholic. She’s gone through the sacraments, and we’re raising our kids Catholic. We have four girls. I made that commitment. I feel it’s a little bit hypocritical of me not to be Catholic myself."