Bringing the world to Jesus

BRIDGPORT— “Bring the world to Jesus one person at a time,” Bishop Frank Caggiano told more than 250 children, teenagers and adults in the RCIA program, who recently celebrated the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion—a ceremony that began their final preparation toward full communion with the Catholic Church.

St. Theresa Church in Trumbull was filled to capacity with catechumens coming into the Church and candidates completing their sacraments, along with their sponsors, family members and friends who gathered on the first Sunday of Lent to be received by the Bishop and the community.

“Bring the world to Jesus one person at a time—that is your Easter homework,” he told them.

Some had already begun the assignment. Michael Wellington, Youth Director of St. John Church in Darien, brought 11-year-old Isaac Morales, whom he had prepared to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil Liturgy. Isaac, a student at Ponus Ridge Middle School in Norwalk, was accompanied by his parents Elizabeth and Edwin. “I wanted to get baptized so I can be closer to God and get into the Church,” he said, smiling.

Diane Kingsley of St. Margaret Mary Church in Shelton is sponsoring Anila Drici from Albania, the sixth member of her family to go through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program. Anila grew up with no faith in a Communist country where Christianity was not allowed. She came to America two years ago and her daughter started taking her to church and she loved it. Her brother introduced her to Deacon Jeff Kingsley and his wife Diane.

Rite of Election at St. Theresa, Trumbull
Photos by Amy Mortensen

“I’m so happy to become a Catholic,” she said, “When I was growing up in Albania, there was no faith, no Church, nothing. Now, my faith in God is so important to me. I am so thankful and want to grow in my faith.”

When Anila is baptized, it will mark the 18th time Diane has been a sponsor, nine times through the RCIA program.

“Initiation is another step deeper into discipleship,” the Bishop said. “The journey doesn’t end there. It continues because you are called into full communion with the Church so that you can continue to grow in holiness. Your vocation is to become a saint in this life and in the life to come … And to achieve our true destiny, which is Heaven.”

“We live in a world that wants you to be comfortable, a world that wants you to only worry about yourself, a world that says it is only about me,” Bishop Caggiano told the group. “We come here to tell the world that it is wrong. And that a person who truly wishes to find himself or herself will never be afraid to go into the desert…There we find Christ, and in finding Christ, we have found everything we need.”

The Rite of Election, which is traditionally held on the first Sunday of Lent, marks the end of the formation period of study and prayer and the beginning of the final preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter — Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.

During the service, catechumens (those who haven’t been baptized yet) and candidates (those who have been baptized but want to receive Eucharist and Confirmation) came forward to the altar to be personally greeted by Bishop Caggiano, who told them, “I will be praying for you.”

Rose Talbot-Babey, Coordinator of Family Faith Formation for the diocese, said they then sign the “Book of Election” to signify their desire to receive the sacraments and be received into full communion with the Church.

Deacon Jeff Kingsley, who served as master of ceremonies, has been an RCIA coordinator since 2006, starting at St. Joseph Church in Shelton and currently at St. Margaret Mary. He and his wife Diane lead RCIA classes together.

“We share our life experiences with them and teach them about the Catholic faith,” Diane said. “They see us practicing our faith, and they’re attracted to that excitement and the love of God in us.”

Deacon Jeff points out that RCIA is a formation program, and not just educational instruction.

“You want them to embrace Catholicism as a way of life,” he said. “You have to teach them to pray and about the sacraments and the Church. You also have to share your faith. Our faith is really a relationship, and people have to grow in developing that relationship.”

Deacon Jeff often refers to the program as “RCIF”—“Rite of Christian Initiation for Families”—and stresses the importance of other family members participating in the formation process along with the catechumens so they can learn and grow together.

The first step in the RCIA program involves a reflective period of inquiry, when a person inspired by the Holy Spirit expresses interest in becoming a Catholic. This is followed by the rite of initiation when a new member is accepted into the worshipping community. Next, there is a period of learning and formation, sharing and prayer called the Catechumenate, which typically lasts from the First Sunday in Advent to the First Sunday in Lent. During Lent, members are urged to increase their prayer and get closer to God. At the Easter Vigil, they receive the sacraments and are fully welcomed into the community of believers. This is followed by “Mystagogy,” a time to further explore the mysteries of the faith and go forth to build the kingdom of God on Earth.

As Bishop Caggiano told the group, their mission is “to truly become Christ’s mirror in the world.”



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