‘Special joy’ as faith journey of candidates, catechumens advance

Photo Caption: Cynthia Edmonson introduces Jennifer Anderson, a candidate from Corpus Christi Parish in Galesburg, to Bishop Jenky at last Sunday’s Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

By: By Jennifer Willems

With applause and handshakes, broad smiles and a few tears, more than 150 people embarked on their final approach to the Easter sacraments at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion last Sunday at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, presided over the ceremony, which will be repeated this Sunday.

The Diocese of Peoria is poised to welcome 105 men, women and children through the waters of baptism at the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 5. These catechumens will also be confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time.

Another 186 people who are already baptized will complete their Christian initiation through confirmation and the Eucharist and be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church at Easter. They are known as candidates.

In greeting the catechumens and candidates, Bishop Jenky said these ceremonies “are always moments of special joy.”

“Your presence here makes your bishop, your priests, your deacons and the rest of the church happy,” he said.

At the Rite of Election, the bishop asks the godparents if those to be baptized “are sufficiently prepared to be enrolled among the elect.” After hearing that they are and receiving assurances of prayer and support from the rest of the community, Bishop Jenky said, “The church in the name of Christ . . . calls you to the Easter sacraments.”

Because they are already baptized, the candidates were called to continuing conversion.

“The church recognizes your desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a place at Christ’s eucharistic table,” Bishop Jenky said. “Join with us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”

The bishop led the applause for both groups and greeted each person individually.

Among the catechumens were Tiffany and James Reed of Holy Family Parish in Lincoln. Their daughters Alena, 10, and Adalyn, 7, not only accompanied them the cathedral, but led the way into the Catholic Church.

The girls are students at Carroll Catholic School. Alena asked to be baptized last year, but wanted to celebrate the sacrament at one of the Children’s Masses so she could be surrounded by the school community she had grown to love. Adalyn also was baptized last spring.

Father Jeffrey Laible, pastor, only agreed to do it if Tiffany and James would go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults process at Holy Family. They made good on their promise this year and will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.

“The kids are pushing them,” said Sister Mary Lou Owens, OP, spiritual life coordinator for the Logan County Roman Catholic Community, with a smile.
Tiffany said the parishioners at Holy Family have become “a second family.”

“I went to other churches with friends growing up, but never felt a part, never felt welcomed,” she said. Holy Family is “a second home, a second family to us.”

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