Many in Rochester Diocese prepare to join Catholic Church - Catholic Courier
A woman shakes hands with a bishop.

Catechumen Savannah Diaz shakes hands with Bishop Salvatore R. Matano after signing the Book of the Elect during the Feb. 26 Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Courier photo by Jeff Witherow)

Many in Rochester Diocese prepare to join Catholic Church

Third-grader Adriana Golden came home from school one day last year and made a comment that set her whole family on a spiritual journey.

“Adriana came to me and told me she wanted to take Communion like her friends did,” recalled her mother, Kara Golden. “I told her I would look into what we had to do.”

Her family was not Catholic, but Adriana had thrived at St. Mary School in Canandaigua since transferring from public school at the start of the 2021-22 academic year, Kara Golden explained. After inquiring at Canandaigua’s St. Benedict Parish about how to become Catholic, the family began working through the Catholic Church’s initiation process.

More than 150 preparing to enter Catholic Church in Diocese of Rochester

Kara and Mark Golden and their children, 9-year-old Adriana and 6-year-old Ryan, are among the dozens of people throughout the Diocese of Rochester who will be welcomed into the Catholic Church April 8 during Easter Vigil liturgies at their home parishes.

Approximately 60 catechumens — unbaptized people 7 and older — will be baptized, receive the Eucharist for the first time and be confirmed during this year’s Easter Vigil, according to Donald Smith, diocesan coordinator of sacramental catechesis and family life.

Another 100 or so people in the diocese are candidates — those who were baptized in Catholic or recognized Protestant rites but never received first Eucharist and/or confirmation. These people also will enter the Catholic Church either at the Easter Vigil liturgies or during their parishes’ confirmation liturgies this spring, Smith said.

Most of the candidates and catechumens attended the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester Feb. 26. The catechumens formalized their intentions to become fully initiated Catholics by signing the Book of the Elect. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano presided at the liturgy, at which candidates also affirmed their desire to be received fully into the Catholic Church.

Spanish Masses opened door for migrant workers in Tompkins County

Bishop Matano also permitted the N.E.T. Catholic community — which comprises the northeastern Tompkins County parishes of All Saints in Lansing, St. Anthony in Groton and Holy Cross in Freeville — to offer a separate liturgy in which its candidates and catechumens formalized their intentions to join the Catholic Church, Smith said. Most candidates and catechumens in the community are migrant workers who do not speak English and were unable to travel to Rochester for the Feb. 26 liturgy, he noted.

Most candidates and catechumens in the N.E.T. Catholic community attend Masses celebrated in Spanish each week at St. Anthony, explained Father Jorge Ramírez, parochial vicar of the community’s parishes. Their participation in these weekly Masses inspired them to want to become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church, he said.

“They started to join us in the Mass and asked to participate in this program to receive all the sacraments of Christian initiation,” Father Ramirez said. “They want to join our Catholic faith because their families are Catholic. Many of them came to this country when they were kids.”

Initiation process is ‘big undertaking’ but is well worth the effort

The initiation process for all candidates and catechumens requires a significant commitment of time and effort. At times, the Golden family wondered if it had taken on more than it could handle, Kara Golden admitted.

In addition to raising two children with her husband, Mark, she owns a hair salon and leads a Girl Scout troop. It was not always easy to make time for biweekly preparation sessions — which ramped up to weekly frequency as the Easter Vigil drew near — but they were well worth the effort, Kara Golden said.

“We pile so much into our lives. To make a commitment to your spiritual life on top of all the things we already do is a big undertaking, … but we are so thankful we chose to walk this path,” she added.

Tags: Catholic Beliefs, Holy Week, Ontario County News, Tompkins County News
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