Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 13, 2006
RCIA 'elect' ecstatic over joining Church
299 ready to become Catholic at Easter
By RAMON GONZALEZ
Sloane Roberts St. Thomas More Parish
On March 4, Loblick, a secretary at a surgeon's office, took a step on her journey as she took part in the Rite of Election at St. Joseph's Basilica.
She was among 299 adult and children catechumens and candidates from 37 parishes across the archdiocese who affirmed their desire to become members of the Catholic Church. Two celebrations were held to accommodate the large group, their sponsors, families and friends.
During the Rite of Election the Church formally announces the names of those who will celebrate the sacraments of initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion - at the Easter Vigil. These individuals enter the cathedral as catechumens and leave as "elect."
Before greeting each candidate individually, Archbishop Thomas Collins welcomed them as a group and challenged them to "be attentive to God because God is always attentive to us."
In his homily, he called Lent a season of repentance and called on his audience to employ the season to renew themselves, to give up sin and do works of holiness. "Turn away from sin because there is no future in sin," he said.
In the opening prayer, the archbishop asked God to "protect all who are about to become your children, and continue to bless those who are already baptized."
Then, after the catechumens and candidates expressed their readiness and willingness to complete the final steps of their Christian initiation, Collins welcomed them individually and prayed to God to accept them.
"Bless all your adopted children and add these chosen ones to the harvest of your covenant," he prayed.
For Loblick the ceremony was an official welcoming to a community she already feels she belongs to. When the archbishop shook her hand, the woman's face lit up revealing her genuine joy. "It was an incredible experience," she said later. "I'm ready to be received into the full communion of the Church."
Tammy O'Keefe credits her soon-to-be married daughter Christina Hilton O'Keefe with drawing her and her daughter Nicole, 13, into the Catholic Church.
Nicole Hilton O'Keefe
After Christina, 20, became engaged to Robert Peel, a Catholic, she thought the whole family should join the Church and the three joined the RCIA process at St. Dominic Savio Parish in northeast Edmonton. Only one of Tammy's daughters, Ashley, turned down the invitation saying she was not yet prepared to take the step.
The O'Keefes didn't need a big push to join the Church for they have always been somewhat close to it. Even though Tammy was never baptized, she raised her children Catholic and sent them to Catholic schools.
"God called me to do this and when my daughter said she was coming to do this I knew right away I had to do it too," Tammy said. "This means a new life for me."
Initially Nicole couldn't find the words to express her emotions but she finally said, "I feel good about becoming a Catholic; I feel really good."
Christina, who is to wed in September, said her fianc‚e had a small role in her decision. "I was raised a Catholic. I've always known I wanted to be baptized (and join the Church officially) but Robert gave me the extra push I needed to do it right now," she smiled. "I want to get married in the Church and raise my family Catholic."
For Shannon Thomson, a 39-year-old Edmonton registered nurse, the journey began last summer when she decided to become baptized and started searching for the right Church.
She grew up a Protestant and wanted to get baptized but didn't know where or how. A friend she met through work invited her to a Catholic Mass and she enjoyed the experience, although she was shocked at her lack of knowledge about the meaning of Holy Communion.
"I didn't know it was actually the body and blood of Christ," she said.
When she started asking questions about the sacraments she realized the Catholic Church is where she wanted to be. When she inquired about how to become a Catholic she found out about the RCIA and decided to join the process at St. Alphonsus Parish last September.
"I was attracted by the history of the Church; being the first Church and that was very appealing to me but mostly it is the celebration of the Eucharist that led me to the Church," Thomson, said after the Rite of Election.
"Every week I learned something at RCIA. It's so profound, especially going into it not knowing really anything. I learned so much about the sacraments, of course, all the symbolism, the whole liturgical calendar.
"This is an amazing faith. I just think it's a beautiful faith. It's so beautiful; if people really knew what it is about I think a lot more people would come back to it or consider it. It's not a big scary thing."
Thomson is eager to receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil. "I'm so excited, I can't wait," she said. "I'm like a little kid waiting for Christmas."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.