Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of February 18, 2008
Joyous catechumens welcome Jesus at Rite of Election
Archbishop Smith tells members of the elect to be faithful to God
By RAMON GONZALEZ
“I look at its (Church’s) history I think ‘how could you not believe?’”
- Jarred Maciocha
Harder decided to join the Church after attending a Catholic Mass two years ago. A friend of hers asked her if she wanted to come with her to St. Theresa Church because someone was getting baptized.
“And I don’t know why but I decided yeah, I’ll come. So I went and saw what’s happening.
“As I walked in the church and saw everybody there I felt this incredible feeling. It was just a beautiful service and I decided yeah, this is where I want to be.”
Harder has been attending the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at St. Theresa Parish, where in addition to learning the basics of the Catholic faith she has learned that “other people are searching for the same thing that I am.”
“I’m looking for inner peace and I feel this is definitely the way for me to attain that peace,” she said. “I’m not there yet, but I feel that I am on the right path and that I’m getting closer.”
What does Harder like about the Catholic Church? “I’m comfortable (among Catholics),” she said. “When I walk into the church I feel like these (people) are what Christians ought to be.
“They are very welcoming and very non-judgmental, very open and just wonderful.”
Harder’s mom, Dianne, has been supportive despite the fact she is losing her only child to the Catholic Church.
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Archbishop Richard Smith welcomed an emotion-filled member elect Rosio Hechavarria seen here flanked by her sponsors, Luis and Marisela Peñafiel.
“She is here with me. She just wants me to make it to heaven; she is not worried how I do it as long as I take the right path.”
During the Rite of election the Church formally announces the names of those who will celebrate the sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist—at the Easter Vigil. These individuals enter the cathedral as catechumens and leave as “elect.”
Before greeting each catechumen individually, Smith welcomed them as a group and asked God to protect them.
Once the catechumens had expressed their readiness and willingness to complete the final steps of their Christian initiation, Smith went down the isle and greeted each of them individually with a handshake.
“Dear catechumens, I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil,” the archbishop said later.
Then he offered them a challenge. “Dear elect, God is always faithful to those he calls: now it is your duty, as it is ours, both to be faithful to him in return, and to strive courageously to reach the fullness of truth, which your election opens up before you.”
Rosio Hechavarria, 17, was emotional when she met Smith, but said she felt welcomed into the Church when the archbishop greeted her and her sponsors—Luis and Marisela Peñafiel.
“I felt absolutely amazing,” she exclaimed. “I don’t know; it feels really good to have the archbishop and the whole community encouraging you. It’s really powerful, comforting.”
Hechavarria, who emigrated with her family from Cuba at age 10, said the Catholic faith has never been foreign to her.
“I always really believed in it because my parents are Catholic too. My mother has always been very devoted to the Virgin Mary.”
“I feel that I am on the right path and that I’m getting closer.”
- Sheena Harder
Attending Catholic schools in Sherwood Park has also kept Hechavarria in touch with the faith. She is currently completing Grade 12 at Archbishop Jordan High.
But it wasn’t until after her older sister, Janet, 21, became a Catholic through the RCIA process at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sherwood Park three years ago that Hechavarria decided to join the Church.
“She would talk to me about it and I went with her to some of the Masses and that’s how I became interested in it,” she recalled. “But it wasn’t until last year that I really wrapped my head around the entire idea and I decided to go for it. And it has been great.”
Jarred Maciocha, 30, didn’t have much of a choice. When his wife Loretta, a Catholic, went to enroll the children in catechism classes at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove-Stony Plain she learned about the RCIA and signed her husband up. Maciocha started attending and now is happy he did.
Having grown up with the feeling that organized religion was hypocritical, Maciocha used to be proud of the fact he didn’t have a faith.
“But when I started attending RCIA the Catholic Church started to feel like a place where I belonged,” he said. “Now it feels like an extension of family and when I look at its history I think ‘how could you not believe?’”
Maciocha, a parts manager with a Diesel company, says he is glad he waited until adulthood to join the Church “because I think now I’m ready for the moral responsibly of being a Catholic.”
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