DOVER — The Catholic Church is just a little bit larger now.
Bishop Malooly presided over a service March 9 in which dozens of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) candidates approach the conclusion of their long journey into full participation in the church. The ceremony drew a large gathering to Holy Cross in Dover on a sunny spring day.
Bishop Malooly said this was his 19th such event celebrated as a bishop and “each one is most meaningful.”
The celebration of the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion followed months of study and preparation. Catechumens from nearly every parish in the Wilmington Diocese gathered to take part with their sponsors and families.
Bishop Malooly said there were 52 adult and 18 child catechumens and 70 adult and 51 child candidates. Candidates have already been baptized.
“Never forget what God has given you,” Bishop Malooly said.
“Most Reverend Father, Easter is drawing near, and so these catechumens, whom I now present to you, are completing their period of preparation. They have found strength in God’s grace and support in our community’s prayers and example,” the catechists said on Saturday. “Now they ask that after the celebration of the scrutinies, they be allowed to participate in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.”
The catechumens were called by name as those from each of the parishes were listed. They signed their names in the Book of the Elect before Bishop Malooly signed the book.
“God is always faithful to those who he calls: now it is your duty, as it is ours, both to be faithful to God in return and to strive courageously to reach the fullness of truth, which your election opens up before you,” Bishop Malooly said.
“My brothers and sisters, in beginning this period of Lent, we look forward to celebrating at Easter the life-giving mysteries of our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection,” he said. “These elect and candidates, whom we bring with us to the Easter sacraments, will look to us for an example of Christian renewal. Let us pray to the Lord for them and for ourselves that we may be renewed by one another’s efforts and together come to share the joys of Easter.”
Following the celebration, a long line of sponsors, families and catechumens waited to pose for pictures with Bishop Malooly. The constant click of camera shutters filled the air as group after group waited patiently for a few moments with him.
He said that you could see the enthusiasm of the participants and sponsors and their joy is “a good shot in the arm for everybody.”