Growing the Faith Over One Weekend

The Diocese of Brooklyn held two gatherings last weekend, showcasing the strength of faith within. The first saw Bishop Robert Brennan returning to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, where he was once a seminarian, to welcome 27 young men for a vocation retreat on Feb. 25.

The second was the Rite of Election, where catechumens, or people who have never been baptized, are making a conscious decision to join the Catholic faith. These men and women of different ages and ethnicities are all striving to join the Mystical Body of Christ — the Church.

In total, there were 381 participants from 75 parishes in Brooklyn and Queens. This is an impressive number of converts to the Catholic Church, but with growing secularism in the U.S., the Church must continue its commitment to expanding its family.

A few months ago, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles warned that U.S. society is moving “hard and fast toward an uncompromising secularism,” adding that “traditional norms and values are being tested like never before.”

Along with secularism, the U.S. is seeing record growth in “deaths of despair” (suicide and drug and alcohol overdose). Mental health challenges are also more prevalent. America needs the Church now more than ever.

One of the participants in the Rite of Election noted that she “was going through a difficult time with a lot of anxiety and a lot of panic.” She said her mother “saw me suffering and told me, ‘Try going to church. Just try.’ ” 

She did. And now, she’s one step away from being baptized. Archbishop Gomez noted that “the vast majority of our neighbors still believe in God. Tens upon tens of millions of Catholics still serve God every day, and we are making a beautiful difference in the life of this country.

Our Catholic people are teachers and healers, seekers of justice and peace. “We are serving the poor and vulnerable, raising up men and women of virtue, building strong communities

and families.”  These actions are one main reason non-Catholics are drawn to the Church. The Rite of Election signals the official change in status for the participants who go from being catechumens to being “elected.” 

At the Easter Vigil, the catechumens will be received into the Catholic Church and participate in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. We as a faith community must pray for and give a good example to the catechumens so that the Catholic community can continue to expand.

The two services — one at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, and the other at Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston, Queens — over which Bishop Brennan presided, have now put hundreds of people closer to the Church.

In the words spoken by Bishop Brennan, it was “a very joyous celebration. The family is growing.”