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God's Plan Continues to Unfold at Rite of Election
On Sunday, February 21, the First Sunday of Lent, Bishop Bernard Hebda presided at the Rite of Election at St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord. During the ceremony forty-four people from twenty-one parishes across the Diocese were formally welcomed as catechumens. Early in Church history, God chose a people and established a covenant with them. Today, God continues to choose his people through the covenant of Baptism. During the Easter Vigil, those now named the elect will celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation in their home parishes. During his homily, Bishop Hebda explained that Gods long range plan for each of the catechumens brought them to this moment. God knew exactly how it was that He was going to speak to the hearts of our catechumens, whether it be through their spouses, their children or their teachers. God the Father had a plan for how that was going to take place and He brought you here to this cathedral today. Its such a moment of happiness for the Church, Bishop Hebda proclaimed. For some, Gods plan was years in the unfolding. Hes so patient, the Bishop said. Maybe this isnt the first time the Lord has called you. Maybe youve been feeling it for a long time but now youve been blessed with the grace to respond and the desire in your hearts to say yes. For that, we as the Church are most grateful. We are incredibly grateful that you would be willing to share with us that new life in Jesus Christ and indeed to remind us of who we are as a Church. Reflecting on the days readings, Bishop Hebda continued: One of the wonderful things about the Gospel of the temptations that we heard today is that were reminded that we have a God that loves us so much that He is willing not only to walk with us in the cool of the day in Paradise, but Hes willing to go with us into the difficulties of the desert. Thats how much He wants to be with us. We know that we have Jesus walking with us each step of the way. Hes there to support us. Unfortunately, we dont always have that sense that Jesus is present in a physical way; its not the same as when Jesus walked the streets of Galilee, but we do believe that Jesus is present in His Church. Jesus continues to be present as we walk that journey to Calvary and beyond. As we prepare for that journey into the Heavenly Kingdom, we know are not alone but with Christ whos made present in His Church. God the Father continues to plan to make sure that you might feel that support. Youre going to experience it in a very intense way at the Easter Vigil with the Sacraments of Initiation, but the Lords going to make sure you continue to have those encounters with Him throughout your lives as Catholics. Indeed, each time you come to the Eucharist, each time you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, youre going to have an encounter with Jesus, and certainly an encounter with the Church, that enables you then to be strengthened as you strive to go forth and be the presence of Christ in the world. Bishop also Hebda reminded the assembly How important it is we celebrate the gift of new life that our catechumens mean for us and that we nurture that great gift. On Easter your parish communities are going to be able to witness the new life that Christ desires for all of us. Lets make sure that we cherish that gift and that were prepared to continue to give good example to our neophytes, and help them be introduced into the ways of the Church, so that they might feel the support of the body that is the Church. Its a great privilege, but also a great responsibility. During the Rite of Election, sponsors and godparents publicly affirmed that the candidates are prepared to be admitted to the sacraments of Christian initiation and the assembly pledged to continue to support them in faith, prayer and example. The catechumens also affirmed their desire to fully enter into the life of the Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. As each catechumens name was called, with their sponsor, they joined Bishop Hebda in the sanctuary where the Bishop welcomed them and offered a special blessing. Each name is also recorded in the specific parishs Book of the Elect which was then signed by Bishop Hebda. The Elect now enter into the Period of Purification and Enlightenment as they continue to prepare for full initiation into the Roman Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. A reception for the more than 250 in attendance was held prior to the beginning of the ceremony.