Responding to God’s call to join the church

Future Catholics participate in special rite 

By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger

More than 200 adults and children preparing to enter the Catholic Church in the Davenport Diocese participated in a special rite Feb. 22 at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City. Among the soon-to-be Catholics were 16-year-old twins, a convert who says he’s been defending the faith for 17 years, a dad who’s found a faith home for his family and a mom inspired by questions her 6-year-old asked about God.

Barb Arland-Fye
Lee White of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Davenport, shakes hands with Bishop Martin Amos during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on Feb. 22 at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Iowa City. Lee’s wife, Tricia, stands beside him.

During the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, some 80 catechumens (individuals who have not been baptized) and around 135 candidates (baptized Christians) seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, were presented to Bishop Martin Amos.

This was their final preparation for the Easter sacraments and they were affirming their intention to join the church. The catechumens’ names were inscribed into the Book of the Elect. From now until they enter the church, they will be known as the elect.

In his homily preceding the celebration of election, Bishop Amos reflected on the reading from John’s Gospel (1:35-42) about the first disciples and their invitation to follow Jesus.
The bishop observed that each catechumen and candidate also received an invitation, which perhaps found voice through a spouse or a friend. “But the invitation is always God’s. The invitation is to respond to God’s love; to insert ourselves into the divine call.”

Lee White of Our Lady of Victory Parish in Davenport decided to respond this year. “I’ve been defending the Catholic Church for 17 years and now it’s time to get with the program,” said White, a business owner, husband and father of three.

“Every year my wife has been telling me when RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) was starting. This year I didn’t hesitate.” Tricia, his wife, said: It’s a nice surprise that he said ‘yes’ this year.”
Lee, now a member of the elect, beamed as he shook hands with Bishop Amos.

Orlando Rodriguez, also of Our Lady of Victory Parish, has been thinking about entering the Catholic Church for a couple of years. He wants to raise his family in a faith community. His father-in-law, a former parishioner who lives out of state, will serve as godfather when Orlando is baptized at the Easter Vigil. Nick Marie, a diocesan seminarian, serves as Orlando’s sponsor. The new member of the elect says he still has questions, but every week of RCIA “it gets better.”

Sixteen-year-old twins Brian and Paige Buch of St. Mary Parish in Fairfield also became members of the elect during the Feb. 22 liturgy. They’ve been attending Mass with their dad, Dan Buch, since the fifth grade. “We’ve learned a lot more about the Bible,” Paige said.

Their grandparents, Joan and Leonard Buch, serve as their godparents/sponsors. “I was just praying for quite a while that this would happen and it did,” Leonard said.

Chana Simon, whose husband and his family are members of St. Joseph Parish in West Liberty, received God’s invitation via the oldest of her three children.

“My 6-year-old was asking a lot about God and I really had no answers to give her. I thought now would be a good time to educate myself and learn … I’m still learning,” said the new member of the elect.

Katie Hamlett, her close friend of more than 20 years, serves as Chana’s sponsor.

“I told her that I’m still learning too, and I’m teaching sixth grade catechism,” Katie said.

Bishop Amos asked for and received the assembly’s assent to call all of the catechumens to the Easter sacraments. In response, the catechumens affirmed their desire to enter fully into the life of the church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. “My brothers and sisters, I declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the Easter Vigil,” the bishop said.

Afterwards, the candidates approached the bishop seeking to be admitted into the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist. Bishop Amos asked for and received the assembly’s assent to the candidates’ readiness to share fully in the church’s sacraments. The candidates affirmed their desire to receive the sacraments.

“The church recognizes your desire to be sealed with the Holy Spirit and to have a place at Christ’s eucharistic table,” Bishop Amos said. “Join us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”

Candidate Teresa Mapes of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf said she was inspired to come into full communion with the church because of her prayer group, friends and husband. “I’ve just grown to love the Catholic Church and its traditions. The Holy Spirit told me, ‘it’s time.’”

Continuing preparation for the elect
On the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent, the elect will participate in the “scrutinies,” which are rites of conversion and repentance that include prayers of intercession and exorcism. These scrutinies are intended to deliver the elect from sin, protect them from temptation and invite them closer to Christ. By completing the scrutinies, they ready themselves to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

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