It was an important event for both the participants and the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio led the diocesan Rite of Election Feb. 26 in two separate ceremonies at Christ the King R.H.S., Middle Village, to welcome 949 new candidates and catechumens, who will enter into full union with the Catholic Church this Easter Vigil.
“What makes this day so wonderful is that it is a sign of growth in the Church,” he said. “I believe it is one of the most festive days we celebrate in the Diocese of Brooklyn.”
Ted Musco, the director of the diocesan office of faith formation, said this is an event that showcases the welcoming nature of the Catholic Church. He said the Rite of Election, which is part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults process, was multi-lingual to welcome the immigrants of the community.
RCIA is the Church’s program for non-Catholics to join the Catholic Church and for previously baptized Catholics to complete their first sacraments.
“The church is open and ready to accept new candidates into the full life of the church on the Easter Vigil,” he said. “It really stirs up enthusiasm on behalf of the whole church community.”
Sister Alice Michael, S.U.S.C., director of RCIA for the Diocese of Brooklyn, said she is enthusiastic about the number of people who have either found their way back to the church or felt called to join the church.
“The church is alive,” she said. People throughout Brooklyn and Queens “are expressing their desire to come into full union with the Catholic Church.”
Tatiana Pives, from Holy Cross parish, Flatbush, will be receiving her Confirmation during the Easter Vigil this year. She said she was struggling with inner demons when she was attracted to the good of God. Now, she wants to be in union with His Church.
“In August I was in depression, now I am so happy,” she said.
“You feel like you are completing a journey not just for the moment but for the rest of your life,” said fellow catechumen, Erilande Silma, also from Holy Cross parish. “And it’s an incredible thing to share with my sponsor.”
Pives said the Rite of Election is important to her because she feels she has come to represent the Flatbush Hispanic community before Bishop DiMarzio. She hopes to be an inspiration for other members of the community to hear the call of Jesus.
Adisha Smith Hayden, from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish, Forest Hills, said she was inspired by her community and her family to become part of the Catholic Church.
She chose to enroll in RCIA “to just be a better role model for my daughter, to be a better mom and to help strengthen my faith.”
Catechumen Jefferson Yanque, 15, from St. Rosalia-Regina Pacis parish, Bensonhurst, said shaking hands with the head of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Brooklyn helped to strengthen his resolve to complete the RCIA and to help him feel less nervous about the important changes he is about to undergo in his life.
Sister Alice said she hopes the Rite of the Election celebrated in such large numbers will help the catechumens and sponsors remember the universality and community of the Catholic Church.
“No one is alone,” she said. “We support one another.”
During the Mass, Bishop DiMarzio stressed the importance of support of the entire church community for the candidates during this Lenten season and through the rest of their lives. He asked the congregation to pray for the candidates to stay strong in their resolve to follow Christ, which, he said, is not an easy task.