For The Dialog
Bishop Malooly welcomes those on Lenten journey to faith at ceremonies in Dover
DOVER – Yan Waguespack never anticipated becoming Catholic, having grown up in China, in an atheistic society.
On Feb. 13, she was among 96 people called by name to sign the Book of Elect for their parishes, signifying their desire to be baptized Catholic, receive their first Communion, and be confirmed at Easter Vigil Masses at their own parishes next month.
‘Touched by the Spirit’
“I think I was just touched by the Spirit,” Waguespack said after the annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, celebrated by Bishop Malooly at Holy Cross Church.
Another 118 people participating in the rite have already been baptized as Christians, so they will enter the church by receiving the other two sacraments of initiation: Communion and confirmation. They were called to “continuing conversion.”
Almost 350 people are expected to enter the church in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore this spring after going through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults or a similar rite for children. The remainder were unable to attend the Feb. 13 ritual.
The Rite of Election, as it is commonly called, traditionally takes place the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent.
Bishop Malooly accepted those attending for entry into the church after the people who led their faith formation, as well as their sponsors, affirmed that they were ready.
He called upon all those who filled Holy Cross Church to be “witnesses of Jesus Christ” and urged them to “follow the way of Jesus.”
“Lent is a time of journey,” Bishop Malooly said, especially for those who will see one segment of their faith journey end when they are fully received into the church.
He noted how Jesus journeyed into the desert for 40 days during which he was tempted by the Devil. “Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit” following his baptism by John the Baptist, according to the Gospel of Luke, and was able to ward off those temptations.
Bishop Malooly said Jesus’ followers today may also be able to resist temptation “if we are filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Waguespack and her husband, Wayne, cite different reasons for her decision to become Catholic after 28 years of marriage. Wayne Waguespack, a lifelong Catholic who grew up in New Orleans, met his future wife after she moved to New Orleans from China in 1985 to attend Tulane University graduate school. She earned a doctorate in chemistry.
Wayne, one of 11 children, cites the prayers he and his family offered over the years for Yan’s conversion. Both say he never pushed his wife to become Catholic.
The length of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults surprised Yan Waguespack.
“I made a joke. It’s harder than joining the Communist Party in China,” she said. “But I do learn a lot.”
Even as she prepares to enter the church, she is interested in spreading the faith by returning to China to do missionary work after she retires.
“I know there is a need there,” she said.