Cardinal Wuerl Welcomes Over 1,300 Prepared to Enter Into Full Communion with the Catholic Church this Easter
Sunday, February 22, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, today addressed those gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This Easter, 1,317 adults, teens and children will be baptized or confirmed as Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington. The individuals come from almost every parish and six university campuses located across the archdiocese.
At the beginning of Lent, which is the period of penance and reflection observed by Catholics leading up to the celebration of Easter, those who are being received into the Catholic Church are presented to the local bishop in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This liturgy marks the participants’ formal public expression of their desire to become Catholic and kicks off a final period of intense spiritual preparation.
In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl said, “Your call to conversion is a visible sign that women and men, young and old, from all walks of life, are continuing to respond to our Lord’s invitation: ‘Come, follow me.’ Jesus continues to challenge those who seek God to ‘come and see’ where he is found today, in his Church – among the people of God, in the Body of Christ, within the Temple of the Holy Spirit.”
The cardinal continued, “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. It is God’s Spirit who transforms hearts and changes lives. He is the principal agent of evangelization. Each of you seeking to enter the Church has a different experience of how you were inspired to take this step. Often the Spirit worked through the witness and example of family members, a spouse, a fiancé, friends, coworkers or neighbors who help bring you to Christ and his Church. We are reminded that the work of everyday evangelization is to help others to find and keep the joy we have known in the Holy Spirit who leads us and empowers us to share our faith.”
“The three sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation – are the gateways to the life of grace. The Church has always marked entry into communion with the Church by means of Baptism and Eucharist. Confirmation completes the grace of Baptism by a special outpouring of the gifts of the Spirit. The gifts seal the baptized person in union with Christ and equip him or her for active participation in the worship, witness and work of the Church,” said the cardinal.
The cardinal concluded his homily by reminding the elect (those preparing for baptism) and the candidates (already-baptized Christians seeking to be received fully into the Catholic Church) that 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. In our parishes and our broader archdiocese, let us accompany and support them.”
After the homily, the elect and candidates were presented to the cardinal and approached the sanctuary where he welcomed them. At the Easter Vigil on April 4, 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.
In the Archdiocese of Washington, the rite is held annually at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception over two Sundays to accommodate the large number of people who participate and bring their family members to share in this significant day in their spiritual life. The second ceremony will be held on Sunday, March 1, 2015.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.