By Elizabeth Lowe
This year, at age 59, Ronnie King attended his first Ash Wednesday Mass – and enjoyed it.
“When he (the priest) put the ash on my forehead, it felt like a warm feeling,” said King, a parishioner of Sacred Heart in Glyndon who has not been baptized.
King married wife Nancy, a Catholic, 41 years ago. They raised their two children in the faith.
“It’s taken me almost 60 years to realize what I was missing,” King said. “The more I know (about Catholicism), the better I feel. I’m looking to the future now.”
King was one of nearly 400 candidates and catechumens from nearly 50 parishes who filled the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland Feb. 17 for the annual Rite of Election.
Similar services were held at Holy Family Catholic Community in Middletown and St. John the Evangelist, Severna Park.
In Middletown, there were 24 candidates and 34 catechumens from 11 parishes, and in Severna Park, there were about 100 candidates and nearly 40 catechumens from 15 parishes, according to information from Ruth Puls, director of catechetical and pastoral formation for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Not all catechumens and candidates entering the church attended one of the three services.
To view a slideshow from the event, navigate the arrows below.
During the Easter Vigil March 30, candidates and catechumens will be received into the church. Candidates have been baptized but have not received the sacraments of Communion and/or confirmation; catechumens have not been baptized.
Nearly 200 people are expected to be baptized and nearly 600 people are expected to enter the church at the Easter Vigil, according to information from Puls.
The number of people entering the church in the archdiocese this year is lower than previous years. The Catholic Review reported that in 2012, more than 700 people entered the church and in 2009 and 2010, nearly 1,000 people entered the church those years.
During the Rite of Election, godparents gathered with catechumens and sponsors with their candidates. Catechumens signed the Book of the Elect at their home parishes.
During his homily, Archbishop William E. Lori told the elect that “your presence here today is a sign of hope and joy, not just for me, but for the entire Archdiocese of Baltimore and for the whole church.”
After mentioning Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign, Archbishop Lori said “you might be wondering or concerned about the future of this church which you are about to join or join more fully, a church which has just received such seismic news. But let me say to you this afternoon take heart. You have nothing to fear.”
He continued, “The church will never abandon you because Christ will never abandon his church. It is a privilege for me to walk with you through that door of faith, especially in this holy season of Lent, this time of intense preparation.”
Daphne Hicks, a candidate and parishioner of St. Peter Claver and St. Pius V in West Baltimore, said joining the church “means a closer relationship with God, an opportunity to serve.”
“I feel right at home within the Catholic community,” Hicks said. “I feel very blessed and honored to be amongst people of the Catholic faith. I’m very proud to say that I am a Catholic.”
Copyright (c) Feb. 18, 2013 CatholicReview.org