|Catechumen Jessica Beilharz from St. Mary Parish in Milton signs the Book of the Elect while her sponsor looks on during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion on February 18. The annual rites took place at St. John the Baptist Church in Waunakee. Also pictured is Msgr. James Gunn, far left, pastor of St. John the Baptist. (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)|
WAUNAKEE — On February 18, more than 90 people from the Diocese of Madison stood and gave their promises to continue their journey to fully enter the Catholic Church.
The annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion was held at St. John the Baptist Church in Waunakee.
More than 20 catechumens, those that are not yet baptized, and nearly 70 candidates, those who are baptized Christians and now seeking the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, took part in the rites.
Erica Wand, from St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Monroe, is one of those candidates.
“I feel like it’s a calling,” said Wand. “I’ve been wanting to do this to help my kids grow in the Catholic Church.”
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” said Wand’s sponsor and sister-in-law Gina Bacher. “I’m glad she’s doing it for her family.”
Words from the bishop
“Welcome to this wonderful moment,” Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison said at the start of the event.
“It’s a joy and an honor to be with you this afternoon. I want you always to be welcome, to feel welcome in the Church, and the way we do that is by carrying out our mission as true disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Later, in his homily, Bishop Morlino reflected on Mark’s Gospel reading that said, “The spirit drove Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by the devil.”
Bishop Morlino said Jesus being tempted was part of his mission and that for everyone, “Temptations are practice in the game of life.”
The bishop added that if the Lord allows us to be tempted “frequently or severely or to the point where I think I’m broken, that’s God the Holy Spirit telling you that you are born for higher things.”
He spoke to the “new recruit” Catholics about the “particularly rigorous training program for you through temptation . . . the more you’re tempted, the more God is preparing you for something really great.”
Presentation of the catechumens and candidates
Following Bishop Morlino’s homily, Rob Olsen from Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Beloit, and Colleen Szerlong from Nativity of Mary Parish in Janesville presented the catechumens and candidates to the bishop.
They, along with their godparents and sponsors, affirmed to the bishop they were ready to take the next steps toward fully joining the Church.
First, the catechumens were called up by name and approached Bishop Morlino to be greeted by them, along with their sponsors, and then signed the Book of the Elect.
Next, the candidates were called up by name to approach and greet the bishop, which they did also with their sponsors.
Following the celebrations, Bishop Morlino said a prayer over the catechumens and candidates, which was followed by intercessions for both groups.
A word of thanks and send-off
At the conclusion of the event, Bishop Morlino thanked St. John the Baptist Pastor Msgr. James Gunn and Parochial Vicar Fr. Gabriel López-Betanzos for their hospitality in hosting the event, along with his “brother priests” from around the Diocese of Madison who came to support their future new parishioners.
He also thanked the Madison Diocesan Choir and its director, Patrick Gorman, for its ministry.
Following the event, a reception was held for the catechumens and candidates, along with their guests, at the parish.
Most of the catechumens and candidates will receive the Sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation, however applicable — on Easter Vigil, Saturday, March 31.