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Answering a call: More than 250 to become Catholics this Easter

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For The Dialog

DOVER – When Jamie Thimmes became pregnant with twins about 18 months ago, she was filled with a different kind of awe than pregnancy usually produces.

“It made me feel there was a bigger plan for me,” said Thimmes, 32. “I wanted to be baptized.”

Last summer, Gloria Fili, 84, attended the funeral of a Catholic friend and discovered a mysticism that she had been seeking for years. A previous Presbyterian pastor of hers had instilled in her an appreciation of the mystical aspects of Christianity. “He had a way of using as much liturgy as he could,” she recalled.

Jamie Thimmes signs the Book of the Elect held by Nancy West of Holy Cross Parish in Dover, during the Rite of Election there on March 4 for more than 250 people in the Diocese of Wilmington who are joining the church this spring. (The Dialog/www.DonBlakePhotography.com)

Jamie Thimmes signs the Book of the Elect held by Nancy West of Holy Cross Parish in Dover, during the Rite of Election there on March 4 for more than 250 people in the Diocese of Wilmington who are joining the church this spring. (The Dialog/ www.DonBlakePhotography.com)

Seeing incense rise above the coffin as the body was blessed during the funeral, “I thought, ‘this is it.’”

On March 4, Thimmes and Fili were among more than 250 catechumens (those who have not been baptized as Christians) and candidates (baptized Christians seeking Communion and confirmation) from 30 parishes who declared their intent to become Roman Catholic at the annual Rite of Election.

“For a local bishop, this is a nice shot in the arm,” Bishop Malooly said of the catechumens and candidates, who gathered at Holy Cross Church with their sponsors, family and friends, and leaders from their own parishes.

The bishop presided over the ritual and scanned the parish ledgers into which catechumens signed their name, expressing their intent both in person and in writing. But he noted their full entry into the Catholic Church was not simply because they desired it.

“I will declare you elect to be baptized not because you earned it, but because God called you,” Bishop Malooly said. Only then did a personal decision play a role when each of them responded to that call.

Thimmes and Fili traveled different routes to the Catholic faith, yet both became part of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at Holy Cross.

Thimmes immediately knew who to call when she decided she wanted to be baptized. Deacon John Harvey, her husband Greg’s uncle, leads the RCIA program at Holy Cross.

“I have never been baptized. It is something I always wanted but didn’t know how to achieve it,” she said. Deacon Harvey “suggested I start coming to RCIA classes. I felt it was where I needed to be.”

Currently, her husband doesn’t attend Mass with her, but it is situational. With three children ages four and younger, and her need to study the Scriptures with her RCIA associates after the readings, he stays home with the children.

“When I come home on Sundays, we talk about what I learned and what he learned as a child,” she said. “Once I finish the program, we plan to go to church as a family.”

Fili, who became inactive as a Presbyterian, found her interest in the mystical renewed when she attended that funeral. She is especially drawn to the concept of the Eucharist truly being the body and blood of Jesus.

“It’s awe-inspiring,” she said. “It caught my breath thinking about what it is and how exciting it is.”

When she is received into the church at the Easter Vigil Mass, the one aspect she is looking forward to most is easily answered.

“Eucharist,” she said with a smile.

 

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