As part of a 2 p.m. Rite of Election on March 1, Archbishop George J. Lucas greets Sebastián Enrique Santiago Cabello and his confirmation sponsor, Father Scott Hastings, the archdiocese’s vicar for clergy and judicial vicar. Sebastián will be confirmed at the Easter Vigil at St. Wenceslaus Church in Omaha with his siblings Lucia and Hector. Their parents are Hector Luis Santiago Cruz and Lourdes Marie Cabello Schomburg. The Rite of Election was held at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. SUSAN SZALEWSKI/STAFF

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Archbishop Lucas welcomes those to fully enter church at Easter

The church has been waiting for you, Archbishop George J. Lucas told 281 people who are to be welcomed into full communion with the church at Easter.

“You bring something beautiful and unique to the communion of believers,” he said in a homily at a March 1 Rite of Election ceremony at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

The archbishop presided at two Rite of Election celebrations, one at 2 p.m. and the other at 7:30 p.m. A total of 82 people participated in the ceremonies as catechumens, publicly declaring their intent to be baptized and confirmed and to receive holy Communion at Easter Vigils across the archdiocese. A total of 199 participated as candidates on their way to receiving the sacraments of confirmation and first Communion.

All were greeted individually by the archbishop as part of the ceremony. The catechumens entered their names on a list of those chosen for initiation.

Von O’Connor, a freshman at Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School in Bellevue, was one of the catechumens. The school, and his friends there, made him want to learn more about the Catholic faith, O’Connor said. So he went to classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) at nearby St. Bernadette Parish and decided to officially become part of the church.

Joann Morfeld had been baptized in another faith but decided to enter the Catholic Church because of her daughter, Calleigh, 7. Morfeld and her husband, Michael, wanted “just one religion in the house,” she said. So she entered formation at St. Gerald Parish in Ralston.

Archbishop Lucas reminded O’Connor, Morfeld and others of their need to stay connected to God if they are to “bear much fruit.”

He was referring to a reading from St. John’s Gospel at the ceremony, which included Jesus’ words: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Anyone who remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit …”

A “deep, personal relationship with Jesus Christ” is part of the church’s prayers for each of them and likely what they are expecting as they move forward in their conversion, Archbishop Lucas said.

That type of relationship involves praying every day that the Lord will reveal himself to them, that he will be part of every encounter as they go through their day and that they will be more open to his plans, the archbishop said.

“It’s easy enough to get disconnected,” through distractions, willfulness and selfishness. He said the Eucharist will draw them into a “life-giving communion,” in which Jesus becomes part of them and they become part of him.

“If you’re rooted and connected, you will bear good fruit,” and will have an effect on other people.

“The Lord will put people in your lives whom you can influence,” and usually that’s someone who needs something you can provide, the archbishop said. That could be words of encouragement, prayer, an invitation to know Jesus better or physical needs like food, clothing or shelter.

“This is what the Lord means by bearing good fruit. He always sends his disciples out to bear good fruit.”