Bishop Siegel receives Catechumens and Candidates from across the diocese

Bishop Siegel, center, greets catechumens at the Feb. 18 service. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

By Megan Erbacher

The Message editor

On Feb. 18, Bishop Joseph M. Siegel celebrated the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion for Diocese of Evansville catechumens and candidates at St. Benedict Cathedral in Evansville. 

Representatives of 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 godparents and sponsors joined them in the presentation to Bishop Siegel.

Bishop Siegel offers the Act of Recognition for the candidates, who are shown with their sponsors. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Attendance overflowed into the narthex with more than 800 people present for the service.

On Ash Wednesday, Bishop Siegel said we all set out on a Lenten journey of 40 days which culminates with the sacred Triduum celebrating the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. 

In the gospel account of the Lord's temptation, the spirit leads Jesus into the desert, the bishop explained, a place of desolation and solitude, to pray and to prepare for his ministry. In his time of soul searching, Bishop Siegel said the devil takes the opportunity to tempt him.

By their very nature, he said, temptations lure us; they present us with something that seems attractive and desirable.

Jesus knew he was the son of God, Bishop Siegel noted, and he knew what this meant for him, so all of the devil’s arguments were in vain.

These basic temptations face us as well, the bishop continued, the desire to put one's needs and desires above all else. Every temptation is both a challenge and an opportunity, he explained. The challenge to say no to evil and yes to good; and the opportunity to make life choices that lead us to a deeper relationship with God.

Bishop Siegel told the catechumens and candidates, that it’s a time of more intense spiritual preparation, a time of interior reflection intended to purify their hearts and minds to prepare for the grace of the sacraments. 

Bishop Siegel offers the Act of Election for the catechumens, who are shown with their godparents. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Lent is your time to deepen your resolve, the bishop told them, to hold fast to Christ, and to carry out your decision and the church’s challenge to you to love God above all else.

Bishop Siegel encouraged the catechumens and candidates as they continue their pilgrimage of faith, the Catholic Church is also anxiously looking forward to the day when they will be one with us at the table of the Lord. 

In conclusion, Bishop Siegel assured the catechumens and candidates of his prayers for them, as well as the prayers of the entire Diocese of Evansville. Be at peace, he said, and continue to listen for Christ’s call to daily conversion as you prepare to enter deeper into his Paschal mystery and promise to serve God faithfully in the Catholic Church.

After his homily, Bishop Siegel received the catechumens first, then the candidates, who were presented by representatives of the parishes they will join at the Easter Vigil Mass.

Prayers of intercessions for the catechumens and candidates followed. Bishop Siegel concluded the service with a final blessing and dismissal.

Catechumens and candidates then had the opportunity to get group photos with Bishop Siegel, who remained in the sanctuary.

Bishop Siegel offers a final blessing over the catechumens, candidates and all who were present for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher