285 continue faith journey at Rite of Election, Call to Continuing Conversion
Henry Wefer of Morton can’t wait until the Easter Vigil, when he will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time.
“It’s what I want more than anything,” said the 18-year-old college freshman, who will be received into the Catholic Church at St. Monica in East Peoria on April 11. “I’m burning for the sacraments.” (See the related story here.)
Wefer was one of 285 hope-filled men, women and children who began their final preparation for the Easter sacraments at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on Saturday morning, Feb. 29, and Sunday afternoon, March 1. Gathering at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria, they were welcomed by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who said, “I want you to know how blessed and happy I am to have all of you here.”
As the ceremonies progressed, he had an opportunity to offer a more personal greeting as each one came forward to be presented by their pastor, permanent deacon or coordinator of the parish Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
A SPECIAL BLESSING
Those who are seeking baptism come to the Rite of Election as catechumens. After their godparents affirmed that they have “faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed” and “begun to walk in God’s presence,” and those around them pledged their prayerful support, the catechumens were declared to be “members of the elect” by Bishop Jenky.
In addition to being baptized, these 85 people will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
Those who are already baptized but desire to “participate fully in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church” are known as candidates. Bishop Jenky called these 200 people 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,” he 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.”
After the liturgies ended, the newly elect and candidates, along with their godparents, sponsors, friends and families were invited to return to the sanctuary for photos with Bishop Jenky. He also blessed rosaries and other religious items those preparing for the Easter sacraments had received and traded smiles with the little ones who approached him.
He pointed to one baby boy and told him he should become not only a priest, but a bishop, much to his parents’ delight.
During a quiet moment between photos, Bishop Jenky received a request for a special blessing from Sky and Alyssa Nunes of Holy Cross in Champaign, who are expecting their first child. Sky is now a member of the elect, while Alyssa is a candidate who will be coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.
“They were so excited that Bishop Jenky blessed their baby,” said Gloria Fellers, director of religious education at Holy Cross.