By Tim Lilley
The Message editor
Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion for Diocese of Evansville catechumens and candidates Feb. 26 at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.
Thirty-three parishes from across the diocese presented their Catechumens – those who will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist during the Easter Vigil – and their Candidates – those who will be confirmed and receive the Eucharist during the Easter Vigil. Their respective sponsors joined them in the presentation at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville.
More than 800 people attended the service, which represents one of the largest turnouts ever!
In his homily, Bishop Siegel explained that St. Benedict Cathedral serves as the mother church of the Diocese of Evansville, adding that it is never more beautiful than when it is filled with the faithful of our diocese.
He noted that the Catechumens and Candidates come from many different parts of the diocese, and represent many different parishes and communities. Whatever brought them to the cathedral, he said, they have one thing in common – they come to deepen their relationship with Jesus by becoming full members of the Church, the people of God.
By being members of the Church, they will all experience the love of Christ, who game Himself to save us. Gospel recounts that Satan tempted Jesus to disbelieve his father, his love for him and for us. Bishop Siegel explained that Jesus quickly dismissed Satan as a way to teach us how to overcome the evil one when he tempts us. It’s where we find the strength to fight our own temptations.
He talked about temptations that Catechumens and Candidates may face on their road to full communion with the Church. The ordinary temptations of life may be compounded by deeper temptations, he said. Satan may ask why they think God actually cares for them – he will tempt them to disbelieve God’s love for them.
Or, he said, the temptation could be more subtle – suggesting their journey to Easter is just a formality. He said the Church calls us all to allow Jesus to find us, and to open our hearts to faith and love. He noted that the late Pope Benedict XVI once said that being a Christian involves a personal encounter with Jesus.
To avoid these temptations, the bishop encouraged them to join the Church family in seeking the grace to open their hearts to Christ – to fall in love with Jesus in a definitive, personal way.
In conclusion, he said, “God’s love for you, and for me, is for keeps…. His love will endure forever.”
He closed by telling the Catechumens and Candidates to count on his prayers, the prayers of their parishes and the prayers of the entire diocese. He added, “Please know how welcome you are. May God bless you on your Lenten journey.”
Following his homily, Bishop received the catechumens first, then the candidates, who were presented by representatives of the parishes they will join at the Easter Vigil Mass. The catechumens’ godparents and the candidates’ sponsors joined them for the presentation to the bishop.
Prayers of intercessions for the catechumens and candidates followed, and the service concluded with a final blessing and dismissal.
Bishop Siegel remained in the sanctuary for group photos with the Catechumens and Candidates. A reception for all followed in the Wood Center of St. Benedict Cathedral Parish.