Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

RCIA Welcomes New Members to the Church

You had to be impressed by the amount of people who showed up for the Rite of Election held last weekend at Christ the King R.H.S., Middle Village. This was the formal acceptance by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the catechumens and candidates for sacraments who will be entering the Church at Easter.

More than 1,100 people shook hands with the bishop as a sign of welcome to the Catholic Church. They all came along with their sponsors and family members that required the large auditorium to be used twice on the same afternoon. So many people wanted to be there that there were traffic jams along Metropolitan Avenue before and after the services.

These folks have been preparing for months for full communion with the Church. In their own parishes, they have been studying the Catechism, reading Scriptures and receiving instructions about the teachings of the Church. It all culminates with baptism and reception of the first sacraments at Easter Vigil services in the respective parishes in Brooklyn and Queens. It’s part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, which is what used to be known as convert making in the Church. Prior to Vatican II, converts would come to the Church by meeting individually in the rectory with a priest for a series of instructions. After the Council, RCIA became the norm for welcoming newcomers to the faith.

Bishop DiMarzio used his homily at the Rite of Election to urge these new Catholics to use this period of Lent as their time of final preparation for the sacraments to purify themselves by turning to prayer, fasting and performing acts of charity.

“You are on the verge of a major change in your lives,” he said. “This is the time of final preparation. It is a time to fight against sin and put God front and center in your lives.

“We are officially ready to accept you as the Elect.”

The bishop urged them to resist the temptations that the modern world puts before them. He singled out the abuse of food, sex and alcohol as “major addictions in our modern world.” He said that pride is the root cause of all sin.

He referred them to the Scriptures as the same source of strength against temptation that Jesus used when He was tempted by Satan in the New Testament stories. He also told them to find strength in the power of the community of the Church to which they now had come.

All of the newest members of the Church were invited to join again with Bishop DiMarzio at the Mass of the Neophytes that will be held on Tuesday, May 6, at 8 p.m. at St. James Cathedral-Basilica in Downtown Brooklyn.

Unfortunately, the number of attendees at that service has not matched the great crowds that appeared for the Rite of Election and that will show up for Easter liturgies. In the past, only about 10 percent return for that special celebration of communion with the diocesan bishop.

“Let’s make it more than that this year,” said Bishop DiMarzio, suggesting a modest 15 percent return this year.

We can do better than that. Let’s encourage all our newest Catholics to be there with Bishop DiMarzio at St. James so that traffic will be backed up on Jay and Tillary Streets.

Congratulations to all those who have sought refuge in the Catholic Church community and to those who have given of their time to prepare for this big step in their lives.

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