Church of Green Bay to grow by 266 at Easter
Bishop welcomes RCIA candidates and catechumens at rite
Fifth in a Bishop's Appeal series
By Brian Kohls
|GETTING READY: Bp. David Zubik welcomes Maisie Lin, a catechumen from St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay, Sunday during the Rite of Election at Our Lady of Lourdes Church. (Rick Evans photo)
DE PERE -- "You bring a spark to the church," Bp. David Zubik told 64 catechumens and 202 candidates at the 21st annual Rite of Election March 4 at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
"We are very grateful to you," Bp. Zubik said at the ceremony, which is part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
As part of their RCIA faith formation, catechumens and candidates gathered with their sponsors, godparents, family and friends for the bilingual ceremony, which moves them closer to becoming full members of the Catholic Church.
"The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is a wonderful celebration when the catechumens and candidates celebrate being called by God," said Anissa Lodzinski, associate director of worship for the Green Bay Diocese.
Lodzinski's work with parishes on the RCIA is funded in part by the annual Bishop's Appeal, now being conducted in parishes across the diocese.
"This calling is ritualized and formalized by the church when the catechumens and candidates come before the bishop and declare their desire to become a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church," Lodzinski said.
Many of the catechumens and candidates were excited about the idea of being called by God and of becoming fully participating members of the church.
"I'm in awe of the whole thing," candidate Lisa Mastalir said of the Rite of Election. "It's awesome! It's exciting! (It's a) big step in the journey," said Mastalir, who attends St. Bernard Church, Green Bay.
Catechumen Amanda Krohn was excited about meeting Bp. Zubik.
"(He) personally talked to me," Krohn said of her brief meeting with the bishop. "He cares! It was amazing!" said Krohn, who attends St. Paul Church, Plainsfield.
Excitement and enthusiasm were common words in Bp. Zubik's homily.
"God gave the Israelites every reason for enthusiasm ... for eternal life," Bp. Zubik said. "God gave the early Christians every reason to be excited. He promised them salvation."
The excitement from being called by God doesn't only happen once, Bp. Zubik said. "The enthusiasm of the catechumens was contagious." He told a story about 4th century Christians who were almost jealous of the catechumens' enthusiasm for the faith.
"That is the way it was in the church ... and the way it is today. God is promising us salvation," he added.
Candidate Ryan Robert Thompson said part of his enthusiasm came from when he and his sponsor talked with the bishop.
"I was nervous," Thompson said. "He (Bp. Zubik) is keeping us in his prayers and thoughts. I'm (also) impressed by the number of people and the distance everyone traveled to make this transformation," said Thompson, who attends St. John Church, Little Chute.
Near the end of the Rite of Election, Bp. Zubik announced that catechumens and candidates were moving forward in their faith formation.
"Catechumens, I now declare you members of the elect, to be initiated into the Sacred Mysteries at the Easter Vigil," the bishop said. "Friends, I accept you as candidates preparing for full participation in the sacramental life of the church," the bishop told the candidates.
Lodzinski said that both catechumens, who are individuals who have not been baptized as Christians, and the candidates, who are individuals who have been baptized into other faith
traditions, are seeking full communion in the Catholic Church. Both the catechumens and the candidates still have more to learn, she said.
"The period of purification and enlightenment is the time immediately following the elect's initiation, and it is a time of intense final preparation and conversion of heart, marked by the celebration of the scrutinies and the preparation rites of Holy Saturday," Lodzinski said.
The scrutinies, which are special prayers and petitions, are an important part of the final preparation period because they relate to "the conversion of (the) heart and turning away from sin," Lodzinski said.
Once a catechumen completes the period of purification and enlightenment, they celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, at the Easter Vigil Mass.
Participating in the Rite of Election means that the catechumens and candidates have traveled far in their RCIA faith journey, Lodzinski said.
The RCIA process begins with a period of being introduced to gospel values, then being accepted into the order of catechumens, followed by completing at least a full year of learning about the community, liturgical and prayer life of the church.
Kassie Bosselaar, who is a sponsor for her catechumen husband, Arjan Bosselaar, said the RCIA process is personally rewarding.
"It was not a hard choice (becoming his sponsor)," said Kassie, a member of St. Bernadette Parish, Appleton. "I'm learning in the process as he brings home books and papers."
This year's Rite of Election ceremony included readings proclaimed in English and Spanish, bilingual songs and prayers. Bp. Zubik's homily was delivered first in Spanish and then in English. Members of the deaf community, along with a sign language interpreter, also participated in the ceremony.
"I'm really happy to be Catholic," candidate Karen Kamasky said through a sign language interpreter. "It was wonderful meeting the bishop! He encouraged me!" said Kamasky, who lives in New London and often attends the deaf community Mass at St. John the Evangelist parish, Green Bay, along with her husband and sponsor, Robert Kamasky.