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March 12, 2017

Journeys of faith join in celebration of RCIA rites

Two catechumens sign the Book of the Elect during the March 5 celebration.

Two catechumens sign the Book of the Elect during the March 5 celebration.

By Caroline B. Mooney

LAFAYETTE — Betty Mahaney, who will be 74 on Easter Sunday, said, “Joining the Church is the best birthday present anybody could get. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

A catechumen from St. John the Baptist Parish, Tipton, she said she could never find a church she totally believed in. “St. John’s is a place that I felt like I belonged. I want to be able to be one with the Church and I want to be one with Christ.”

She joined 195 other catechumens and candidates from the Carmel and Fowler deaneries at a combined Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion held at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception on March 5. (Related: See all the catechumens and candidates from the Carmel and Fowler deaneries here  |  See all the catechumens and candidates from the Lafayette, Logansport and Muncie deaneries here)

The Lafayette, Logansport and Muncie deaneries will send catechumens and candidates to rites at the cathedral on March 12.

Catechumens are those entering the Church who have never been baptized. They will receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist at Easter.

The Rite of Election includes the enrollment of names of all the catechumens by signing the Book of the Elect.

Candidates, previously baptized Christians, will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist at Easter. During the rite, they are presented to and blessed by the bishop.

Mahaney saw her daughter marry a Catholic and then convert to Catholicism.

“They always seemed so happy and they were always talking about the Church,” she said. About a year ago, she asked to join them at Mass, and she kept going.

“When RCIA classes started, I decided to join,” Mahaney said. “By then, I was getting a good idea about the Church, and I was getting close to people and Father Dennis (Goth, pastor). There seemed to be happy people there. I like the tradition, and it appealed to me that the service is the same in any Catholic church I might go to. They’re teaching the same thing that Jesus taught his disciples.”

Her daughter, Bonnie Aspiazu, began attending Mass with her husband while the two were dating.

“We sent our kids to the Catholic school, and one day our son was asking questions about religion class,” she said. “That was when I thought I needed to know more about the Church, and decided I wanted to join. St. John’s has always been very welcoming. It seemed natural to join. You always pray to God that you will be an example for other people, and, with my mom joining, this is what we prayed for.”

In his homily, Bishop Timothy L. Doherty said that in this day and age, it’s hard to stay spiritually grounded.

“So as we come here today, we have to be very deliberate to know that it is Christ the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, who has called us all to be here,” he said. “We pledge together to remember that Lent and this baptism we take on is really serious.

“God will help us to find the way,” Bishop Doherty said. “Be sure that you commend yourself to God. Begin each day with a prayer: ‘God, here I am. I’m asking you to be my companion throughout the day. Help me to be a faithful person, a loving person.’ Have that relationship with him.

“Your role in the Church is three-fold: Nurture your faith in God, which is God’s gift to you. ... Celebrate the beauty of being Christian. The efforts that we choose to be are well worth it. And, know that it’s more than about morals — our faith is about accepting grace from God and sharing it with other people,” he said.

Katie D’Addato, a sophomore at Purdue University, is sponsoring a catechumen at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, West Lafayette.

“Catholicism really permeates the way people behave on campus,” she said. “I see people becoming more active and ablaze with the spirit with their faith. You can see faith in action every day. It’s so exciting. I’m from the East Coast and am used to people being very introspective and private with their faith. Here, it’s just something that is part of people’s lives. It’s their core where their priorities lie and who they are. It’s so exciting to see such a warm and alive faith community.”

Andrea Selak is a catechumen from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Carmel.

“I always had the desire to experience the journey,” she said. “Originally from Croatia, I’ve been here 18 years. I’m from a Catholic family, but I was never baptized, so

the desire came from me. It’s been a wonderful journey so far. Through RCIA, there’s a great amount of education. I have enjoyed learning so much and connecting on a deeper level spiritually.”

Candidate Jenna Romens has been attending Mass with her husband and two children at St. Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers for 10 years.

“I always say I’ve been in formation for 10 years. My son is going through confirmation this year, and I think it’s neat for my son and me to go through formation together,” she said. “The timing was right. I have been learning the practices and why Catholics do the things that they do. It means so much more to me now instead of it just being an action during part of the service.”

Sandy Schrader, RCIA director at St. Louis de Montfort Parish, said parish RCIA retreats “are some of my most favorite times because we really go deep and we really get to hear from everyone. We hear about their faith journey and hear how the RCIA has impacted their life. Today I am excited because we aren’t all by ourselves in the basement of St. Louis de Montfort where we have RCIA every week. We are part of this broader deanery, the diocese and, of course, the Church around the world. So I am excited today for the people from our parish to come to know Church in that bigger way.”

The rites were coordinated by the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate and directed by Jonathan Sullivan.

A reception was held in Bishops Memorial Hall after the rites and was served by members of the Altar and Rosary Society of the cathedral parish.

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