Monday, February 26, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Easter, more than 1,300 adults, teens, and children will be baptized or confirmed as Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington. At the beginning of Lent, the period of penance, fasting, and conversion observed by Catholics leading up to the celebration of Easter, those being received into the Catholic Church are presented to the local bishop in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This liturgy, where participants publicly express their desire to become Catholic, begins the final period of intense spiritual preparation and was held on February 18 and 25 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The liturgy was held on two consecutive Sundays due to the large number of participants who attended from approximately 102 parishes and five university campuses.
In his homily yesterday, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington reminded the catechumens (those who are seeking the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist) and candidates (those who have already been baptized, and are now seeking the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist) that the Holy Spirit is beginning great work in them. “As you step forward into the Shrine’s sanctuary today, remember that you have been touched in a special way on your journey of faith by the Holy Spirit,” the cardinal said. “It is God’s Spirit who transforms hearts and changes lives.”
“Today, you are being invited also to see with the eyes of faith that what is unfolding here is a public commitment to receive the sacraments of initiation – for some Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, and for others Confirmation and Eucharist. But for all, what the public ceremony today is saying is that each of you is prepared at the end of Lent to step forward and become one with Christ in his Church, to become a part of his new Body, the Church,” said Cardinal Wuerl. He then reminded them that as they continue on their Lenten journey, they do not walk alone. “The godparents of the elect and the sponsors of the candidates represent a small part of a very large family of faith that is waiting to welcome you on Easter as you receive the sacraments of initiation,” he said.
Cardinal Wuerl concluded his homily with a simple prayer saying, “Join me in praying: Come, Lord Jesus and walk with me.”
After the homily, the elect and candidates were presented to the cardinal and approached the sanctuary where he welcomed them personally. At the Easter Vigil on March 31, the celebration of the sacraments of initiation will take place, and the elect will celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist while the candidates will celebrate Confirmation and the Eucharist.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.