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Archbishop George J. Lucas greets Hayden Winterhof of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Omaha, and his grandmother and sponsor, Jeanette Benson of Immaculate Conception Parish in Cherokee, Iowa, at the March 5 Rite of Election and Continuing Conversion at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. Winterhof is preparing through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to receive first Communion and confirmation at the Easter Vigil. Photo by Joe Ruff/Staff.

Archbishop Lucas greets about 400 preparing to enter full communion with church

Archbishop George J. Lucas greeted about 400 catechumens and candidates at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha March 5 as they prepare for full communion with the church.

It was a powerful moment for Miranda Vogel, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Atkinson who traveled more than 200 miles with her husband, Jeff, for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

Being at the cathedral for the first time, the importance of the occasion and the overall atmosphere built into one emotional, but calming, moment as the archbishop greeted her, Vogel said. Perhaps in part it was the thought of her late grandmother, Patricia Burival, looking down on her, after having insisted before she died a year ago that Vogel receive the sacrament of confirmation.

“I was nervous, but I shook the archbishop’s hand and it was calming, like a breath of fresh air,” she said. “I’ve never felt anything like that before.”

Hundreds of people from across the archdiocese also preparing for full communion with the church – along with their sponsors, friends and family – joined Vogel at the 2 p.m. ceremony, and hundreds more participated in a 7:30 p.m. gathering. They came to publicly declare their intent to enter the church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), either as catechumens preparing to be baptized, confirmed and receive holy Communion during the Easter Vigil, or as candidates preparing to be confirmed and receive the Eucharist.

Sarah Patton, a member of St. Boniface Parish in Stuart, who started late with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults this year and will fully enter the church next year through confirmation and first Communion, said she was struck by the number of people, from all walks of life and levels of income, going through the same process.

Business people, teachers, farmers or ranchers, “it doesn’t matter how much you make but faith in the Lord that brings us all together,” Patton said.

And Jesus’ call to everyone for fullness of life in him – no matter their age, ethnicity, or stage in the faith – was a major theme of Archbishop Lucas’ homily, as he focused on the Gospel of John and its description of Christ as the true vine, the faithful as branches and God the Father as the vine grower.

“I know Jesus wants to be part of your life,” the archbishop said. “Jesus wants to be as close to you as the vine is to its branches.”

And as the church prepares to commemorate Jesus’ arrest on Holy Thursday, death on the on cross on Good Friday and resurrection from the dead at Easter, it is important to remember his love for all people, the sacrifice he made to forgive sins, and his desire to be close, the archbishop said.

“The glorious, powerful Son of God – crucified and now risen from the dead, is inviting you to be closer to him, to have life in him. Isn’t that amazing?” Archbishop Lucas said.

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