Easter Vigils welcome new Catholics

Father Sean Gann, pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Shore, NY, prays over candidate Paulette Poux while administering the Sacrament of Confirmation April 16, 2022, during the parish’s Easter Vigil. Poux was one of 10 adults fully initiated and welcomed into the Catholic faith at the mass. (CNS Photo by Gregory A. Shemitz)

DETROIT (CNS) – The resurrection of Jesus gives hope to all – especially those newly baptized into the faith – that the sacrifices and crosses are worth it, said Archbishop of Detroit Allen H Winemaker during an Easter Vigil mass at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacraments 16 April.

The mass in Detroit, like Easter Vigil Masses across the country, began with a fire lit outside the church and a blessing and lighting of the Easter candle followed by a procession through a church dark and the flame of the Easter candle spreading from person to person.

In Detroit, the Archbishop baptized three catechumens and welcomed 13 candidates into full communion with the Church, to the applause of their sponsors and loved ones.

Later, the whole congregation renewed their own baptismal promises.

In his homily, the Archbishop said Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God – ridiculed and mocked by soldiers and high priests – was vindicated on Easter Sunday, which he says empowers Christians today to confidently identify as followers of Jesus.

Even Peter gave his life in the end, the archbishop added, because he had become convinced of the great significance of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

“Sociologists tell us that there is a great crisis of meaning in the world today,” the Archbishop said, noting that it is “one of the main causes of so many suicides and this little fever of anger and frustration in so many impasses that assail us.

When Christians stand up and say, “Yes, I am a disciple of the crucified who is risen,” they are witnessing to that meaning and sharing hope with the world, he added.

“It cost Jesus dearly to buy us the hope that sustains us. He willingly paid this price to buy us a possibility of eternal life, to establish an eternal hope, an invincible hope, an unshakable hope,” the Archbishop said.

In Washington, during the Easter Vigil at Saint Matthew Apostle CathedralWashington Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory baptized 11 people and told the congregation April 16 that the light of the risen Christ is dispelling darkness in the world and in people’s lives, offering new life and hope.

In difficult times, when people may face fear, doubt and confusion, the risen Lord comes with “a light that conquers all,” the cardinal said.

“Each year the Catholic Church welcomes its new members on this most sacred night,” he said. “We meet in the dark, which does not frighten us. We have the light of Christ before us. We are not people who need to be afraid. “

During the Easter Vigil at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Brooklyn, New York, Christie St. Juste said it was a dream come true to be baptized into the Catholic faith.

“I feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself and I feel united with everyone here,” she told The Tablet, the Brooklyn diocesan newspaper.

St. Juste, who was born in Haiti and raised as a Seventh-day Adventist, was content with her spiritual life but wanted to make a change. “I wanted to be even closer to God,” she explained.

Still, she was unsure about becoming a Catholic until she did a lot of research on the faith. “I looked at the facts and the history. It is a beautiful, welcoming church,” she said.

Jhan Checo, 13, decided he wanted to join the faith after reading the Bible when he was 10. He focused his attention on the Gospels, finding them fascinating to read and experiencing revelation – even at his young age. “The Lord is the way to go in my life,” he said.

Before mass, he admitted to being “a little nervous”, but said he was looking forward to his baptism and confirmation.

Brooklyn Bishop Robert J. Brennan congratulated the newcomers on their decision to join the Catholic faith. “You remind us what it’s all about,” he told them.

The bishop walked through the co-cathedral sprinkling water on the congregation – using the same water from the baptismal font where the five new Catholics had been baptized minutes earlier.

The evening was also an opportunity for those who were born Catholic to strengthen their commitment to their faith.

In the Archdiocese of Baltimore, some newly welcomed Catholics at the Easter Vigil proved that you are never too old to join the church.

Kenneth Davis, a 90-year-old Protestant, received instruction in the Catholic faith and received his first communion earlier this year at Oak Crest Catholic Community Chapel in Parkville, Maryland.

During the Easter Vigil of April 16, he made his confirmation in the same chapel.

Davis was among nearly 500 people who entered into full communion with the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Baltimore this Easter season. Some, like him, waited almost a century before taking the plunge.

June Vantz, 93, will be received into the Catholic Church on May 8 at St. Ann’s in Hagerstown, Maryland, where she will receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. Like Davis, she was motivated to join the Catholic faith by another resident of her seniors’ residence in Hagerstown.

Davis said that throughout his life he has witnessed and admired the devotion of his Catholic friends and recently many aspects of the Catholic Church have made more sense to him, such as Marian devotion, pro -life, obedience to the pope and absolution of sins through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Msgr. J. Bruce Jarboe, pastor of St. Ann’s in Hagerstown, said evangelistic opportunities can happen anywhere by anyone, as evangelism in his parish shows.

“It’s never too late to grow and grow closer to the Lord and the church by living a spiritual life,” he said.

Paula Katinas in Brooklyn, Mark Zimmermann in Washington, and Priscila González de Doran in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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