As more than 800 catechumens and candidates from the Archdiocese of Baltimore prepare to enter the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, April 7, Holy Saturday morning will provide an opportunity for prayer and reflection.
The elect, whose February ceremonies were cancelled because of snow, will make one final preparation at 10 a.m. during Preparation Rites, which will be held at three sites across the archdiocese on April 7.
“It’s the final time of prayer, blessing, and witnessing of conversion of heart that occurs before the evening Easter Vigil,” said Sharon Bogusz, coordinator for evangelization and adult catechesis for the archdiocese, “a relatively informal Liturgy of the Word. Very powerful stories of faith are told by the candidates and their sponsors.”
Bishop W. Francis Malooly, western vicar, will preside at the Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Emmitsburg; Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, eastern vicar, at Our Lady of the Fields, Millersville; and Bishop Denis J. Madden, urban vicar, at St. Wenceslaus, Baltimore.
“Many parishes participate; some do their own thing,” said Ms. Bogusz, “so it’s not as widely attended as the Rite of Election.”
She explained the two rites to be performed by the bishops: the Ephphetha Rite, or rite of opening the ears and mouth, impresses on the elect their need for grace to hear the word of God and profess it for their salvation. Each person will be called forward by a bishop who touches each ear and closed lips. The second rite is the recitation of the creed as the elect profess their faith with the assembly.
The celebration concludes with a special blessing; the elects return to their parishes for the Easter Vigil, sponsors by their side, to celebrate the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Two parishioners of Sacred Heart, Glyndon, share what it means personally to become Catholic: “That I have made a conscious decision to accept Christ into my life as my savior,” said Randy Williams, “and to believe in Him and to work harder to practice God’s will … that I might gain some true peace in my life.”
Traci Kovalsky said she has attended “Catholic Mass for many, many years (on and off) with my husband. Now that we have a young son, it is very important to me that we share our faith as a family.”