GREECE — The number of Catholics in the Diocese of Rochester will grow by nearly 300 on April 4, when 291 people will join the Catholic Church during Easter Vigil services at parishes throughout the diocese. Through their initiation into the church, they are joining the family of Catholics all around the globe, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano recently remarked.
"Today this is not the Catholic Church of Rochester. This is the Catholic Church of Rochester united with the universal church, and united to our Holy Father Francis," Bishop Matano said during the Rite of Election and Call to Conversion service held Feb. 22 at St. Lawrence Church in Greece.
During the Feb. 22 service and another held March 1 at St. Mary Our Mother Church in Horseheads, representatives from 59 parishes presented candidates and catechumens from their parishes to Bishop Matano, who greeted each one individually and formally acknowledged his or her intention to become a fully initiated Catholic.
Of the 291 individuals who will enter the church during the Easter Vigil, 152 are candidates who previously had been baptized in recognized Christian rites and will receive the sacraments of first Eucharist and confirmation during the Easter Vigil, according to Mary Dundas, diocesan coordinator of evangelization and sacramental catechesis.
The remaining 139 people are catechumens, who will receive all sacraments of initiation — baptism, first Eucharist and confirmation — during the Easter Vigil.
Regardless of the ages or backgrounds of the candidates and catechumens — including 103 children — they share a common desire to become closer to God and become full members of the Catholic family, Bishop Matano said during the Feb. 22 ceremony.
"We gather today as one family to seek the help of Jesus as we continue to make our way through this life by all the different avenues and paths represented here today that have brought you, my brothers and sisters, to want to encounter the person of Jesus Christ more deeply," he said.
Those present at the Greece service encountered the person of Jesus through that day’s Gospel reading from Mark, which was about Satan’s temptation of Jesus in the desert. Bishop Matano noted that Jesus’ desire to be part of our lives was so strong that he spared himself no trial and even allowed himself to be tempted to choose what was wrong over what was good. Jesus overcame that temptation and with his help, Catholics can do the same, the bishop added.
"We, like Jesus, must overcome the evil one, and we cannot do this alone. This is why, my brothers and sisters, you who are seeking more intimacy with Jesus Christ come to this church today seeking to become full members," Bishop Matano said.
Many of the candidates and catechumens said they were excited about the prospect of becoming closer not only to other members of the universal Catholic family, but also to their immediate families. Candidate Danielle Carson said her family’s Catholic faith inspired her to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Leo Parish in Hilton.
"My whole family is Catholic. My girls are baptized Catholic and my husband is also, so I wanted to join my family," Carson said after the Feb. 22 service.
Family unity also motivated Jessica Maginn and her 9-year-old son, Nathaniel, who went through the RCIA at Fairport’s Church of the Assumption. Neither had ever been baptized, but Maginn’s husband, Ryan, and their 7-month-old son, Declan, both were baptized Catholic, Maginn said.
"We just all wanted to be the same denomination so we would go to church as a family," Maginn explained.
In a similar way, the RCIA at St. Theodore Parish in Gates was a family affair for Liane Gioseffi and her sons, 10-year-old Jeremy and 8-year-old Justin. All three candidates went through RCIA because Gioseffi felt in her heart that she and her sons should be part of the Catholic Church.
The Gioseffis, the Carsons and the Maginns all said they found the Rite of Election and Call to Conversion at St. Lawrence to be a moving and special experience. The Maginns were particularly grateful for the blessing Bishop Matano bestowed upon their family as he passed by, and the Gioseffi family appreciated the warm welcome they felt during the service.
"It really makes you feel like you’re a part of it," Gioseffi said. "You really feel welcomed into the community."Tags: Holy Week