Rite of Election
|Don Bowen of St. Patrick Parish in Fremont is greeted by Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss at the [START] March 5 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. Nearly 600 people expressed their desire to join the Catholic Church. Photos by Lisa Schulte|
|Jennifer Bosch of St. Columbkille Parish in Papillion publicly commits to joining the Catholic Church by signing the Book of the Elect at the [START].|
By LISA SCHULTE
The Catholic Voice
Jim Lombardo said he has found a home in the Catholic Church.
Although baptized Catholic, the 24-year-old Omahan was not raised in the faith and spent several years exploring other religions. But with the help of his sponsors, Will Fabian and April Schaeffer of St. Leo Parish in Omaha, he has embraced the Catholic faith and will become a full member of the church at the Easter Vigil.
'The more I learn about the Catholic Church, the more I enjoy it," he said.
Lombardo was one of nearly 600 people who began their final period of initiation into the Catholic Church at the [START] March 5 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.
The celebration "“ held at two ceremonies "“ is observed on the first Sunday of Lent for those preparing to come into the church through the Easter sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.
During the ceremonies, the elect publicly expressed their desire to join the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss, who presided at both ceremonies, told those who attended to be prepared for the life-changing effects of what it means to be a Catholic, but to know that they have the full support of the Catholic community.
'The faith community that has nurtured our faith becomes a new family for us, a new circle of supportive friends. Gradually, oh so gradually, we become immersed in Catholic culture, in Catholic liturgy, in Catholic life," he said. 'And if we are faithful over the years, despite an occasional lapse or period of spiritual emptiness, then our faith deepens and our relationship with Jesus changes the way we love God and other people. We gradually become like Jesus."
For Susan McQuistan of Pender, the decision to become Catholic has not been an easy one.
'There are a lot of things in life that you have to look differently at when you join the Catholic Church," she said. 'But I know it's right for me and my family."
The 35-year-old mother of two was raised Lutheran but had never been baptized. Her husband, Robert, is a Catholic.
'When I found out that I hadn't been baptized, I was kind of sad," she said. 'I felt like I had missed out on something."
McQuistan said that at the [START], she was comforted to see so many other people who had never been baptized.
'It made me feel like I was making a good choice, that I wasn't alone," she said.
That sense of community was what most impressed Jason Lawrence that afternoon at the cathedral.
The 34-year-old from Columbus said he was surprised to see not only so many people who were there to join the church, but also those who were there just to show support.
Showing support that day was Lawrence's wife, Tracy, and his 13-year-old son, Jaxson, who are both practicing Catholics. Lawrence said it was their influence that made him want to join the church.
'My son has really grown in his Catholic faith and really loves his faith," Lawrence said. 'I'd gone to other churches, other faiths, but I felt like I was being selfish because he so loves his faith and I didn't think it was fair to take him out of his (faith) for something that I didn't even know we would enjoy."
Lawrence and his wife, who have two other children, have been attending Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes for several months together, which has strengthened their relationship as a couple, he said. It also helped alleviate some of the misconceptions he had about Catholic teachings regarding confession and Mary.
'Not being a Catholic, when my family and I would go to church, I never felt welcome because I didn't understand what was going on," said Lawrence, whose sister is in the RCIA program at St. Francis Parish in Humphrey. 'But now having gone through RCIA classes, I've never felt more welcome in the church."
McQuistan said she's anxious to make the next step in her spiritual life and become a Catholic at the Easter Vigil.
'I'm sure I'll be crying my eyes out because I know what it all means," she said. 'It's going to be like a second chance on life because baptism wipes away your sins and you're starting over. I'm going to be one again. I'm getting a second lease on life in a different sort of way."