‘The most personal act’

More than 1,000 to join Church this Easter

12-Election-2

Candidates and catechumens stand before Archbishop Vigneron as they express their intent to enter the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.

Detroit — In fourth grade Nicole Scheier’s best friend, Ashley, introduced her to the concept of Jesus and the Catholic Church.

Scheier, who was Jewish, was intrigued and also “scared of what my friends and family would think … but I felt this pull to Jesus and the Church.”

The Book of the Elect sites in the sanctuary at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

The Book of the Elect sites in the sanctuary at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Years later, Scheier and more than 700 other individuals participated in one of the Rite of Election celebrations at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit, stating to Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron that they desired to join the Catholic Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.

This particular celebration, which was held at 2 p.m. on March 9, was one of five Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion celebrations held over the weekend at the cathedral for a total of 1,095 catechumens, candidates and Catholic candidates. The number represents the majority, but not all, of those who will be entering the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Detroit this year.

The baptismal font is adorned with a crown of thorns, reeds and a purple cloak: symbols of Christ’s passion.

The baptismal font is adorned with a crown of thorns, reeds and a purple cloak: symbols of Christ’s passion.

In all, 2,587 people attended the five Rite of Election ceremonies, including sponsors and members of parish RCIA teams. Five parishes — St. Joseph, South Lyon; Our Lady of Refuge, Orchard Lake; National Shrine of the Little Flower, Royal Oak; St. Thomas a’Becket, Canton; and St. Martin de Porres, Warren — served as host parishes, who provided liturgical ministers and hospitality for the celebrations.

“This is a very personal act for you,” said Archbishop Vigneron at his homily during the celebration. “Putting your life on the line, really.”

The archbishop called it “most personal, and most sacred, because this act of presenting yourselves — catechumens, for baptism, and candidates, for full initiation — this is not just signing up to belong to the rotary club, or some philanthropic organization.”

“No, this is the most personal act of your heart from the very deepest center of your own freedom,” he said. “How sacred is that?”

Archbishop Vigneron emphasized to the candidates and catechumens during these weeks of Lent, to above all, “be joyful. Be at peace. You’re on the right road — the road we were made to walk, heading to the Jerusalem you were made to live in forever.”

The pages of the Book of the Elect.

The pages of the Book of the Elect.

Following the homily, the catechumens signed their names on parchment paper at the front of the cathedral and stood before Archbishop Vigneron to declare their intention to live fully in the life of the Catholic Church.

The parchments with the names of the catechumens were place in the large Book of the Elect, which was then presented to Archbishop Vigneron.

Following the celebration of election, the candidates stated their desire to fully participate in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, through reception of first Eucharist and/or confirmation.

Chelsea Friedland, a catechumen attending RCIA at Holy Trinity Parish in Port Huron, said after the celebration that she felt “overwhelmed and excited.”

“This will be the first Easter Vigil I will ever have attended, I had never been to one before,” she said. “The first time I attend, I’ll be a part of it.”

Catechumens sign their names in the Book of the Elect, pledging their desire for baptism.

Catechumens sign their names in the Book of the Elect, pledging their desire for baptism.

Enyinnaya Nwamuo, a catechumen at St. Gerald Parish in Farmington, said that attending RCIA has been “awesome” and he looks forward to the Easter Vigil.

“I am so happy,” he said, “it is going to be a wonderful experience.”

And Scheier, who is a fellow RCIA participant at St. Gerald through the guidance of Peggy Backus and Deacon Ron Grenda, agreed: “This is the most exciting thing I have ever done in my entire life.”

She voiced encouragement for anyone who is considering joining the Catholic Church or returning to the Catholic Church.

“Listen to God,” she said. “Follow your heart and your soul; don’t listen to anyone else.”

 

This year’s new Catholics

This year, 1,095 people took part in Rite of Election ceremonies at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. They are:

472 catechumens (those who have never been baptized)

• 362 adults and 110 children

368 candidates for full communion (those baptized in other denominations)

• 330 adults and 38 children

255 Catholic candidates (those baptized Catholic, but lacking confirmation or first Holy Communion)