Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 20, 2000
Rite of Election brings 300 to the Church
In Calgary, another 460 will become Catholic at Easter
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
For some it was a new experience; for others it was coming home.
Catechumens and candidates, 296 of them, and their families gathered in St. Joseph's Basilica March 11 and 12 for the Rite of Election to affirm their desire to become part of the Catholic Church.
After 30 years, Derek Arnold, 69, said becoming Catholic was essential to his life and he knew he couldn't wait another year to do it.
"I should have done it a long time ago," said Arnold of St. Francis Xavier Church in Camrose. "I just never got around to doing it."
But the recent deaths of his brother and a friend made Arnold realize he was not getting any younger.
"This really brought it to a head for me," said Arnold, who was baptized Anglican. "What if I pass away, where would my wife have me buried? I had not been a (practising) Anglican for a long time and I wasn't a Catholic."
Arnold and his wife, Phedelia, have nine children, all baptized Catholics.
"I guess I was influenced by my wife and the people I met in the Church."
The Rite of Election recognizes the candidates' and catechumens' commitment to receive Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter.
In Calgary, St. Mary's Cathedral was filled to the rafters, where the Rite of Election welcomed 270 catechumens and 190 candidates throughout the diocese.
In the Grouard-McLennan Archdiocese, there are 26 candidates and catechumens while no figures were available for the St. Paul Diocese.
"This is introducing them to the archidiocesan family," said Len Allbon, secretary of the Edmonton archdiocesan RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) committee, which prepares candidates for the sacraments.
David Cramp was introduced to the archbishop by Liz Sadoway and Eva Pelletier, RCIA coordinators at St. John Bosco Church. His neighbour introduced him to the Church a year ago.
"He invited me to his church and I jumped at the chance," Cramp said. "I felt something missing in my life. I knew of God and believed in him. . . . I realized he was missing in my life."
Cramp said he knew the moment he walked into St. John Bosco Church that he was in the right place. "I felt this overwhelming feeling of warmth."
Since beginning preparations to enter the Church, Cramp said "I changed my ways a lot. I try not to get upset about things. I used to be upset at little things. I'm more at peace now."
Sarah Davis has that same sense of peace. When she recently called home to tell her parents of her conversion, she didn't want them to think her new Catholic boyfriend was an influence.
"I decided this before I even met him," said the 19-year-old nursing student at the University of Alberta. "This was something I knew I wanted to do."
Davis first attended Mass at St. Joseph's College two years ago on the invitation of a friend. Shortly after, she joined the choir and soon became a member of the parish. Davis fitted in so nicely that even Father David Bittner of the campus ministry didn't realize she was not Catholic until she approached him and asked about RCIA.
She grew up immersed in a mixture of religious influences.
"My father is Baptist, my mother is a witch. I have one sister who goes to a Methodist Church and the other one is at the Salvation Army Church."
As a child, Davis attended those churches, and Lutheran and United too.
"The Catholic Church is a very strong Church," she said. "It's a very open Church, very welcoming."
Life at St. Joseph's wasn't the biggest influence in Davis' decision, but it pushed her in the right direction a lot faster.
"I think I would have eventually done it," she said. "I look at the entry in my diary when I first came (to St. Joseph's) and I was still doubting. I would have a hard day and I would wonder if God was there for me.
"But now, I always turn to God. I know he's always there. Even when I have a bad day, I can turn to him and I feel better."