The Easter Vigil service at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, Sunset Park, will take a little longer than usual this year. In addition to the dramatic symbols of light and special readings that are used, 52 people will be baptized and an additional 25 will be receiving other first sacraments.
O.L.P.H. was one of the 105 parishes that participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults’ Rite of Election last Sunday at the former Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope.
The numbers of new Catholics entering the Church and others updating their sacraments are staggering. So many people continue to seek membership in the Church, that two different ceremonies had to be held for the Rite of Election. About 1,250 people from Brooklyn and Queens were welcomed and congratulated for completing their period of preparation for full communion with the Church by Auxiliary Bishop James Massa, who shook hands with each one during the prayer service. About 100 boys and girls were welcomed at the Children’s Rite of Election the previous day.
Three hundred and eighty-seven people will be baptized into the Church. Another 528, who were previously baptized, will be receiving Confirmation and First Communion.
One by one, the catechumens (those to be baptized) and candidates heard their names called out and they each proceeded on stage to meet Bishop Massa. Two books, one each containing the names of each group, were presented to the bishop.
The bishop asked the sponsors and entire congregation for their approval and then he officially accepted them as suitable for the sacraments at Easter.
Each person had his or her own story. Like Kari Morales, a native of Mexico, who works as a school psychologist at PS 81, Glendale, who will be baptized at St. Rose of Lima, Parkville. “Now that I am an adult, I better understand my call to faith. I have a responsibility to cooperate with my faith in God,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot of misconceptions about the Church. There’s a lot of negativity out there. The period of preparation opened my eyes to the truth.”
Kari says she plans to be active as a catechist.
Kelly Velasquez, who was born in the U.S. of Dominican parents, will become a member of St. Leo, Corona. She explained that she felt ready to join the Church and hopes to remain active in the RCIA.
Yuleisdy Guerrero, of Mexican descent and also a member of St. Leo’s, said she had seen her sisters baptized and asked her mother if she could do so. “We saw how good it was for them,” she said.
Other parishes with large classes this year include St. Athanasius, Bensonhurst, with 41 members; St. John Vianney, Flushing, with 44 catechumens; St. Agatha’s, Sunset Park, where 38 will be baptized and another 15 will receive first sacraments; and St. Leo’s, with a class of 55 people.
The diocesan RCIA program is coordinated by Joann Roa who works with Ted Musco, director of the diocesan School of Evangelization.