Catechumens, candidates prepare to be received fully into the Church at Easter

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PROVIDENCE — People have different reasons for wanting to be baptized and enter into the full sacramental life of the Catholic Church.

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For Yanet Martinez, a parishioner of SS. Rose & Clement Church in Warwick, she wants to raise her infant daughter in the Catholic faith.

“I’ve been on a journey for over a year now. The faith has always been with me,” Martinez said.

Ana Irigoin, also a parishioner of SS. Rose & Clement Church, said she wants to receive the sacraments of Holy Communion and confirmation because one son has already received his first holy Communion and her youngest son will soon be receiving his.

“I just want to share that with them,” Martinez said after the conclusion of the Rite of Election the Call to Continuing Conversion, which was held Feb. 14 at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in Providence.

Fifty-two catechumens — those who will be baptized and receive holy Communion and confirmation at the Easter Vigil, and 84 candidates, those who will receive their first Holy Communion and be confirmed — gathered at the cathedral with their sponsors to pledge their commitment to continuing the journey to full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

Bishop Thomas J. Tobin presided over the ceremony in which he congratulated the catechumens and their sponsors for their faith and commitment. Noting that they come from diverse backgrounds and personal experiences, the bishop told the catechumens and candidates that their faith is a gift from God, and that the Catholic faith can provide them with permanent values and a signpost in an ever-changing world.

“You have received the gift of faith from the witness of others,” said Bishop Tobin, who challenged those preparing to enter the Church and receive their sacraments to provide a solid witness to the world with their Catholic faith.

“One thing you share is the Holy Spirit has led you to the Church,” the bishop said.

Before the bishop’s homily, the service included a Liturgy of the Word with readings from the Old and New Testaments and the Gospel.

Following the homily, the catechumens were called by name, and their godparents were asked to affirm that they had taken seriously their commitment to learning about and growing in the faith.

“Your own godparents and teachers and this entire community have spoken in your favor,” Bishop Tobin said. “The Church in the name of Christ accepts their judgement and calls you to the Easter sacraments. Since you have already heard the call of Christ, you must now express your response to that call clearly and in the presence of the whole Church.”

The catechumens responded, “We do,” after being asked if they wanted to enter fully into the life of the Church. They then approached the altar, accompanied by their godparents, to sign the Book of the Elect and to greet Bishop Tobin as the congregation sang the Hymn for the Holy Year of Mercy.

“I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil,” Bishop Tobin said.

“Thanks be to God,” the elect responded.

The candidates were also presented with their sponsors, and they made similar affirmations that they had also come to a deeper appreciation of their baptism, that they had reflected on the Church’s tradition and that they had advanced in a life of love and service of others.

“My dear candidates, the Church recognizes your desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a fuller share at Christ’s Eucharistic table,” Bishop Tobin said. “Join with us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”

The service ended with the bishop praying over the elect and the candidates before offering the final blessing and dismissal. Edward Trendowski, director of the Office of Faith Formation, said he was pleased with the turnout for the ceremony.

“They braved the cold weather to get here,” Trendowski said. “We had people from different parts of the state, which was nice. You could see from a lot of the smiling faces the importance of this day, the Rite of the Elect, has on them.”

Emerson Torem, 17, a parishioner of SS. Rose & Clement Church, said he is looking forward to receiving all his sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

“I just love the parish. I love the Church, and I love every part about it,” Torem said. “I love God, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.”

Barbara Benoit, who is Torem’s godparent, said she was humbled when he asked her to sponsor him.

“To me, that is a very big honor,” she said.

For many of the candidates and members of the elect, the Sunday afternoon ceremony marked the first time that they had been inside the cathedral.

“The ceremony was beautiful,” Irigoin, of SS. Rose & Clement, said. “And the cathedral is beautiful.”

Sacraments