WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Archbishop Richard Smith welcomes Tyler Lacoste at the Rite of Election March 13.
While studying environmental sciences at Lethbridge University, Tyler Lacoste of Red Deer suddenly began to feel a need for God in his life. The question was what religion?
So the young atheist started a quest for a religion that met his spiritual needs and begun researching all major religions. He attended a Baptist church in Lethbridge for a couple of months but didn't seem happy.
He liked what he had read about the Catholic Church so he decided to give it a try. After attending Mass a few times at Lethbridge's All Saints Church, Lacoste was sold.
"I liked what I saw," he told the WCR. "I like the tradition. I like how the Catholic Church didn't change so much with society."
Lacoste, 23, was one of 188 adult and child catechumens from across the Edmonton Archdiocese who affirmed their desire to become members of the Catholic Church in two separate ceremonies at St. Joseph's Basilica March 12-13.
About 400 people, including sponsors, families and friends attended each ceremony. Catechumens like Lacoste will formally enter the Church at the Easter Vigil, where they will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
Lacoste, formerly a proud atheist, began his research on religions in high school. He wanted to prove religions wrong but it backfired.
"The more I researched, the more I tried to prove the whole religion thing wrong, the more answers I got," he said. At university, he continued his research and studied all major Christian denominations.
Convinced he wanted to be a Catholic, Lacoste approached the pastor at All Saints Parish and, at the priest's suggestion, he joined the RCIA.
However, because of his studies he was unable to complete the formation program. So last year after he moved back to Red Deer following graduation, he joined the RCIA at St. Mary's Parish.
"I'm glad that I've carried this through this far and I'm excited about getting through the Lent season and into Easter," he said. "Today was a really interesting day for me; I've never seen anything like it."
WCR PHOTO | RAMON GONZALEZ
Patricia Eastman is joined by son Alexander and partner Bruce Penner.
Archbishop Smith expressed his joy at receiving the catechumens as members of the elect.
"This will be for you the moment of encountering in a supreme way the saving grace of the cross," he said in his homily.
"This will be the moment when through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist the saving grace of the cross touches you and fills you and draws you into this mysterious communion, this beautiful communion that we call the Church."
But the archbishop assured his congregation that "this is not the first time you have been touched by grace.
"You would not be here today and you would not feel within you the desire to be part of the Church if grace was not already actively within you," he said.
Once the catechumens had expressed their willingness to complete their Christian initiation, the archbishop went down the aisle and greeted each of them individually. He then declared them to be members of the elect who will be "initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil."
Patricia Eastman, a catechumen from Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sherwood Park, attended the Rite of Election with her partner Bruce Penner, a longtime Catholic, and their two-month-old son Alexander. The couple is planning to get married after the Easter Vigil when Eastman and the baby are baptized.
Eastman, 28, had no religion until she started dating Penner, who attends Mass twice a week. "I started going to church with Bruce and I really enjoyed the Mass and the people," she said. "I like the fact (that my becoming a Catholic) unites our family."
She said meeting the archbishop made her day. "I was surprised how down to earth and humble he is. He is very open and welcoming."
Faye Boyle of Rocky Mountain House is excited to be coming back home. Boyle was baptized a Catholic as a child but then confirmed in the Anglican Church in Edson at age eight or nine. She attended Anglican services throughout her school years but then she moved away and stopped attending church.
She married a Catholic, Gerard, and had a son, Kieran, now 14, who was baptized a Catholic and attended Catholic schools in Rocky.
Boyle attended church with her family without knowing what was going on. Finally she learned about the RCIA in a newsletter from her son's school, St. Dominic's, and decided to enroll.
"The reason I went was not the reason I'm staying," she said. "I (initially) wanted to see what was going on. But I stayed because I truly believe that the Catholic is the true Church."
Boyle is one of 13 candidates, people who have already been baptized Christian, who attended the Rite of Election at the basilica. "I'm here for my Confirmation and Profession of Faith," she explained.