Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
March 9, 2009
Rite of Election thrills archdiocese's catechumens
The children and adults travelled a variety of paths to Catholicism
WCR PHOTO: RAMON GONZALEZ
Jodi Welikoklad, a catechumen from St. Mary's Parish in Red Deer, and her sponsor Chantal Mangan smile as they are greeted by Archbishop Smith.
BY RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — When Archbishop Richard Smith shook Shannon Currie’s hand, welcoming her choice to become a Catholic, the woman was happy, a big smile lighting her face.
“He is a very nice man. It was a wonderful moment for me,” Currie said afterwards. “I got kind of tingly. It feels so nice to be part of something that’s so historical and to be educated about it.”
Currie, 30, was one of 156 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 Feb. 28 and March 1.
About 500 people, including sponsors, families and friends attended each of the celebrations. Catechumens like Currie will formally enter the Church at the Easter Vigil, where they will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
A LONG JOURNEY
Currie has been itching to be baptized for a long time. “That’s very important to me,” she said. “My fiancée (Alex) is Catholic and I’m going to raise my children Catholic.” The couple has three small children.
Currie has always been a Christian but never felt right in other churches. “I used to go to the United Church when I was younger but it wasn’t really the right fit.”
The right fit came when she met Alex, a Catholic, four years ago. “He never asked me to become Catholic but something pulled me towards it.”
Currie tried to get into the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at Holy Trinity Parish in Spruce Grove two years ago but she never received a call back.
When the couple was booking a date for their wedding about a year ago, Father Paul Terrio, the pastor, learned about the mishap and helped Currie enroll in the RCIA.
“I’ve learned so much. I joke to Alex that I think I’m a better Catholic than he is,” she laughed.
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.”
In his homily, Archbishop Richard Smith encouraged them “to meditate often and deeply on the meaning of the sacraments you will receive and to understand well the gift that God is offering you through those sacraments.”
COMMUNITY OF FAITH
The archbishop said the sacrament of Baptism, for example, incorporates Catholics into a community of faith — the Church. “Baptism initiates a radically new and beautiful life — a life of holiness. Baptism will initiate you into the Church,” he said.
Before greeting the catechumens and their sponsors and pastors 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, the archbishop went down the aisle and greeted each of them individually with a handshake.
Then, inviting the catechumens and their sponsors to stand, Smith said: “Dear catechumens, I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil.”
“God is always faithful to those he calls,” the archbishop later said. “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.”
MARRIED A CATHOLIC
For Jodi Welikoklad, a catechumen from St. Mary’s Parish in Red Deer, the journey to the Catholic Church began somewhat involuntarily about a decade ago when she married her husband Jason, a Catholic.
She attended Mass with her husband and enjoyed the ritual but joining the Church was not part of her plans. “Ten years ago, I just thought this isn’t my religion,” she recalled. “I kind of blocked it out and thought, ‘Whatever! He is a Catholic; I’m not.’”
Nevertheless, Welikoklad continued attending Mass and once even enrolled in the RCIA, dropping out after a few sessions.
When the children came, three of them, all were baptized. She was the only non-Catholic in the family. As far as she saw it, “I was already a practising Catholic, though not officially baptized or confirmed.”
But Welikoklad, 34, had a change of heart last fall when she saw her seven-year-old daughter preparing for her first Eucharist.
“Since the fall she’s been working through workbooks so she can have her First Communion (in May). That got me thinking — maybe I should be doing the same thing my family is doing.”
A few weeks ago Welikoklad went back into the RCIA at St. Mary’s Parish and is happy she did.
“I feel good that I’m moving closer (to becoming a Catholic).”
Welikoklad sported a big smile when she shook hands with the archbishop. “I just said to him it took me 10 years to figure it out and he said, ‘Oh, that’s okay. At least you are here now; that’s what’s important.’”