The Easter Vigil is the most dramatic event in the Church’s liturgical calendar.
It uses sights, sounds and smells to announce the Good News that Jesus rose from the dead. Candles are lit. Incense rises from the thurible. Bells are rung. The cantor sings out, “Let us rejoice!”
In recent years, the Vigil has taken on a renewed importance in the life of the Church as we’ve returned to the ancient practice of welcoming new members into the Church at Easter. At the Easter Vigil, adults wishing to come into the Church are baptized, and Confirmation is administered to those who seek full communion with the Church.
This year, more than 1,000 men and women entered the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil services held throughout Brooklyn and Queens.
At Blessed Sacrament Church in Jackson Heights, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio baptized seven adults and confirmed 18 men and women.
While some are new Catholics, others come from such diverse backgrounds as having been baptized in another faith or having been baptized a Catholic and never updating the sacraments.
This is all part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Aduts (RCIA) program, which is the Church’s current method of welcoming new Catholics.
“Traditionally in the early Church, people were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil. So, we’re continuing that custom,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
Blessed Sacrament Church was packed with a predominantly Hispanic congregation for its Easter Vigil.
“This is a time when the parish has a chance to celebrate what the Church is all about, and that’s faith,” said Father Richard Hoare, parochial vicar. “During this Year of Faith, it is a sign of what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Xiomara Aguilar, who was baptized, said that she was happy to become a Catholic and was looking forward to being more involved in church activities.
Young Angel Ramos was emotional as he watched his mother Susan receive the sacrament of baptism.
“I was crying tears of emotion,” said the youngster. “I was so emotional that she did her baptism. I’m proud of her.”