Diocesan News

Rite of Election: More Than 1,000 People Will Enter Church in Brooklyn and Queens This Easter

by Marie Elena Giossi

cross_cmykThis year, the Diocese of Brooklyn will welcome 1,033 catechumens and candidates into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on March 30.

 

Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio personally welcomed and accepted the catechumens and candidates from each parish during two Rite of Election prayer services at Christ the King R.H.S., Middle Village, on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 17.

 

On the previous afternoon, 69 children participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children also were accepted at a Children’s Rite of Election prayer service at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn.

 

Recognizing that they have answered God’s call to conversion, the bishop told the adult catechumens and candidates, “Truly today, you give great praise to God by your presence.”stage

The Rite of Election begins the final phase of preparation in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the process through which adults enter the Catholic Church.
 
Desire for Full Communion

During the service, catechumens and candidates publicly expressed their desire for full communion with the Church, and the bishop formally accepted them.

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Sister Alice Michael, S.U.S.C., who coordinates the RCIA program on the diocesan level, is enthusiastic about this year’s group, particularly the significant number of Chinese and Korean catechumens and candidates. One parish, St. Paul Chong Ha-Sang, Flushing, has 41 people preparing to fully enter the faith at the Easter Vigil, she noted.

“We’re here for the Lord, and that’s what these people are searching for,” she said. “The Lord and the Word of God – that’s what’s drawing them.”
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At the Easter Vigils in their respective parishes in Brooklyn and Queens, 501 adults will be baptized; 486 will complete their reception of the sacraments of initiation (confirmation and the Eucharist); and 46 from other Christian denominations will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.
 

The total of 1,033, the bishop said, “is the highest number in my 10 years here as bishop.” 

Jeannie Ortiz, coordinator of the RCIA program at St. John the Baptist, Bedford-Stuyvesant, brought nine teenagers, ages 17-19, to the service.

“It’s been a journey for them,” said Ortiz, who meets with the three catechumens and six candidates every Sunday to break open the Gospel reading from the week and on Monday evenings for catechesis.preparing to go in_cmyk
 
A Real Conversion Experience

“We live in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and the area is violent and poverty-stricken; many kids grow up in the projects and go to public schools,” Ortiz said. “They reach out to a place (church) where they can come and feel comfortable talking about Jesus.”

One girl, whose mom is Pentecostal, started attending RCIA classes just to be closer to her boyfriend. “It turns out that she’s had a real conversion experience,” Ortiz said.

In his homily, Bishop DiMarzio asked the catechumens and candidates to remember that the Catholic Church is a human church. Sometimes it is beset by scandal, and sometimes it is full of surprise, noting the resignation of Pope Benedict. Through all things, he told the assembly, it is the Church of Christ Jesus.handson2

handson_cmyk“I am so happy today,” beamed Jessica Maiga of St. Matthew parish, Crown Heights, as she sat in the auditorium.

Raised by a Catholic mother and Muslim father, Maiga was encouraged to make her own decisions about what to believe. “But I always went to church with my mom,” she said.
 

Two years ago, she began to feel God calling her become a full member of the Catholic Church after the birth of her daughter, Mayleen.

 

“When I had her, I wanted to make everything right,” Maiga said. “I baptized her in the Church, and I decided I wanted to raise her in a fully religious way. This is the first step.”

 

alonzeau_sisteralice_aurelia_nina_cmykLike Maiga, Marc Alonzeau was also raised by a Catholic mother, who regularly took him to church. He was taught that the choice of whether or not to be Catholic would be for him to decide as an adult.

 

 “It’s been a journey for me,” Alonzeau admits, but he has made his decision and will be fully initiated into the faith at St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish, Jamaica.

 

 “It’s a privilege for me to become a Catholic,” Alonzeau said. “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”
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