Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
March 12, 2001
The elect are welcomed
Catechumens, candidates prepare to enter the church
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — The advice Archbishop Thomas Collins gave to the 274 people about to be received into the Catholic Church is that talk is cheap.
"'Jesus is Lord' - if I just say that, that is cheap. You must believe it with your heart. You must practise it with your lives."
Friends, family, sponsors and 274 candidates and catechumens gathered at St. Joseph's Basilica, March 3 and 4 for the Rite of Election. Whether they were invited to the Church or came seeking the faith out of curiosity, they affirmed their desire to join the Catholic Church.
The celebration recognizes the candidates' and catechumens' commitment to receive Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at Easter. Candidates are those who have already been baptized.
Bryce Cook, 23, was invited to Sunday Mass by his fianc‚e, Kerri Erhardt's family. He has been attending Sacred Heart Church in Wetaskiwin for two years and looks forward to many more years.
"It just seemed like the right thing to do," he said of signing up for RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), which prepares candidates for the sacraments. "It was something I really welcomed."
The sense of community and the family atmosphere at the parish were key factors in helping Cook make his decision.
Cook has never been baptized nor has he ever attended church with his family. Some of his friends and family were skeptical of his decision. "But when I told them what I get out of it, they were OK with it."
Having a faith in God has given Cook much to think about and much more to be thankful for.
"I don't take for granted things that I used to. Things that I accomplish, I realize they're not just me doing it. There's someone helping me along the way."
In his homily Collins recalled his favourite scene in the third Indiana Jones movie. In the search for the Holy Grail, a villain picks the wrong chalice. He chose the gold one covered with jewels rather than the one that looked more like it belonged to a pauper.
Because of this he shrivels up into ashes and it's followed by one of the movie's characters saying, "He chose poorly."
That scene, said the archbishop, is much like our lives.
"We need to choose right, not choose poorly."
In our lives, we tend to choose all the splendour, but we forget that we are dust and to dust we will return. So the gadgets we accumulate and the popularity we attain is nothing when our bodies leave this world, said Collins.
The celebration was also a special day for the Mara family. Sixteen members of the family were sponsored by Assumption Parish and arrived from war-ravaged Sierra Leone in June 2000. The family had been hiding and living in refugee camps for more than a decade in the west African country.
This left little opportunity to attend church or baptize the children. It was smiles and laughter as nine of the Mara children ranging from two to 25 years prepared for Baptism.
Though he was baptized in the Catholic Church, Hans Feller was raised a Protestant. It wasn't until he was married that he started back towards the Catholic community.
A major reason for that was meeting other Catholics at St. Stephen's Parish in Lacombe. He also babysat the children of neighbourhood friends and ended up taking the kids to Church.
"Because they were Catholic, we would take them to Church," said Feller, 42.
And like Cook, it was the family environment that prompted the Fellers to stay. "It's like being in a big nice family. Everybody knows everybody.
"(The Church) has changed. It's more open nowadays. Previously, everything was kind of strict. It's now all very open. There's not a lot of fear about the Church anymore. People enjoy it. We like it here."
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