by Ed Wilkinson
“It’s been said that converts to the Catholic faith make the best Catholics,” said Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto as he welcomed the newest Catholics of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“Converts understand clearly what they are doing. They seek the Church on their own will. They realize what was missing in their lives and they resolve to make up for lost time.”
“You will make great Catholics,” said Bishop Chappetto, who served as the main celebrant of the annual Mass of the Neophytes and Candidates April 16 at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn.
The liturgy marks a gathering of the men and women who entered into full communion with the Church at the recent Easter Vigil services throughout the diocese. More than 1,000 people were baptized or updated their sacraments this year in Brooklyn and Queens.
Phillip, who was raised a Methodist, was baptized at St. Martin of Tours Church, Bushwick. He presented a testimony of faith that led to his conversion to Catholicism.
He told the congregation that he had been going down the wrong path in life until 2008 when he came down with a flu that led to the discovery of a leaky valve in his heart. It was repaired after four hours of surgery, but it also forced him to rethink how his life was going.
“God said ‘Stop’ and I stopped,” he said. “He gave me another chance at life. He is merciful and understanding. He is a loving father and knows we all make mistakes.”
Phillip said that years of research led him to the Catholic Church. He also credited the “love and patience” of Sister Alice Michael, S.U.S.C., his godmother, for his new faith. Sister Alice also directs the diocesan program known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the process by which people join the Church.
“I want to be with God, and this is the path he has put me on,” concluded Phillip.
Bishop Chappetto urged the new Catholics to serve the Church by helping to spread the message of love.
“We are so proud of you and we are so grateful for what God has done through you and with you, to lead you to the Catholic faith.
“You are important to all of us. We look to you, and we see new energy, new enthusiasm for the faith.
“You will walk the streets of Brooklyn and Queens, and you will be a sign of God’s love in a world that badly needs God’s love.
“You are a sign of the goodness of God that will triumph over evil through the grace of God,” he said.