Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio encouraged the newest members of the Catholic Church in Brooklyn and Queens to learn more about their faith and to share it with others.
The bishop was the main celebrant and homilist at the annual Mass of the Neophytes and Candidates April 21 at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn. About 100 people attended the Mass which traditionally brings together the bishop and those who entered the Catholic Church at Easter.
Bishop DiMarzio offered a practical plan to assist the new Catholics in the development of their faith.
“What brought you to the faith will help you go forward in the faith,” he said.
“First, you must remember your experience, your conversion to new life.”
Curlene Nelson of Christ the King parish, Springfield Gardens, shares her faith journey. (Photos by Ed Wilkinson)
Bishop DiMarzio poses with new parishioners from St. Michael’s, Sunset Park, and their pastor, Father Kevin Sweeney, at the Mass of the Neophytes at St. James Cathedral.
He also urged them to read the Scriptures, attend the Eucharist, to stay connected to the Church’s liturgical life, and perform works of charity.
Bishop DiMarzio explained that what distinguishes Catholics from other Christians is the belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“The Eucharist is the center of our faith,” he said. “What we believe about the Eucharist defines us as Catholic Christians.”
He called upon those present to develop their faith and to share it with others.
“Not all of you are called to be martyrs,” he said, reflecting on the theme of the readings at the Mass. “But all are called upon to be witnesses to what we believe. Be heralds of the light, witnesses to the faith.”
At the beginning of the Mass, two recently baptized women reflected on their journey to the Church.
Looking for Clear Teaching
“I was looking for a teaching that was clear and relatively easily articulated,” said Curlene Nelson. She found that at Christ the King parish, Springfield Gardens, where she was impressed by the size and the warmth of the congregation.
“I truly wanted this – seeking Our Lord Jesus Christ,” she said.
She was particularly impressed by the liturgy of light at the Easter Vigil when the service begins in darkness. She said her own inner light felt brighter as the lit Paschal Candle was carried up the main aisle of the church.
On the days following her baptism and reception of her first sacraments, she said that her friends commented that she seemed to glow.
“I felt as though I was on my honeymoon,” she added. “I am proud to say that I am a Catholic. I know now that my life is an ongoing conversion process.”
Dr. Beena Iype, a pediatrician from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish, Forest Hills, said her parents had been Catholics but raised her as a Pentecostal.
“I felt a void in my life,” she said.
She was attracted to the Church by her attendance at a Jesuit college but wasn’t sure if she wanted to make a commitment. Then medical school and her residency program took up most of her time. It wasn’t until her father died in 2010 that she started attending Mass at Our Lady of Queen of Martyrs, eventually enrolling in the parish’s RCIA program.
“It’s an amazing feeling. It has filled that void in my life,” she said. “I look forward to learning more about myself and about my faith.”
Almost 1,200 new Catholics entered parishes in Brooklyn and Queens at this year’s Easter Vigil services, said Sister Alice Michael, S.U.S.C., diocesan coordinator for the RCIA.