By Ruby Thomas, Record Staff Writer
Freezing rain, wet slushy roads and a forecast for more bad weather kept many from making it downtown to the Cathedral of the Assumption where the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion ceremonies took place Feb. 21.
The ceremony at the cathedral was one of two where those who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church are formally recognized.
The second celebration took place at St. Gabriel Church, 5505 Bardstown Road, Feb. 22.
This year, 521 men, women and children are preparing to enter the Catholic Church.
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, who presided at the celebration at the cathedral, thanked the modest-sized group that made it downtown on such a wintry day and prayed for all.
Among those who attended the ceremony were many Hispanic families. Deacon Aurelio Puga of St. Rita Church assisted the archbishop in translating for the Spanish-speaking group.
Archbishop Kurtz reminded those gathered that the Archdiocese of Louisville spreads across 24 counties and that some people may have had to travel from as far away as near the Tennessee border. This wouldn’t have been safe, he noted.
Archbishop Kurtz said that this was a very important day for the local church. Important too, he noted, was the desire expressed by so many to “come close to Christ and his church.”
“These 40 days before you are received into the church are very important,” said the archbishop to the congregation.
“We are all called to be the person of Jesus to someone. Your example can be the example of Jesus in their lives,” he said.
The 521 people entering the church come from 60 parishes and they have been preparing for the last year through a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
They are divided into two groups — catechumens, those who have never been baptized, and candidates, those whose baptism in another Christian tradition will be recognized by the Catholic Church.
Catechumens, 225 this year, sign their names to the Book of the Elect, a gesture of their intention to enter the Catholic faith through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil on April 4 or at other ceremonies through the year.
The Book of the Elect was presented to Archbishop Kurtz during the weekend ceremonies.
The 296 candidates will enter the church at the Easter Vigil or other ceremonies during the year through the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.
During the ceremony at the cathedral, the archbishop spoke to Godparents, asking them to bear witness to the preparedness and willingness to enter the Catholic Church of those they sponsor.
To the catechumens and candidates, he said to be “missionaries” “by witnessing to the way Jesus has changed your life.”
The archbishop also addressed the entire congregation, reminding each person present of their responsibility to be Christian witnesses.
“Please continue to support them,” he said of the catechumens and candidates. “May they see a love of church in you and a desire to do good.”