|Candidate Approaches Bishop With Sponsor (photo by Arthur Capps)|
Those seeking to enter the Catholic Church came to St. Peter's Cathedral in Belleville from parishes throughout southern Illinois on this first Suday of Lent for the Rite of Election. His Excellency Bishop Edward Braxton presided.
One by one, a representative of each parish announced the names of those who have spent many weeks learning the faith in that parish. The first group were catechumens, who will be baptized at the Easter vigil. Then came the candidates, who have already been validly baptized and are seeking full admission to the sacraments. Approximately 250 in total were presented individually to the Bishop during the three-hour ceremony.
Bishop Braxton's homily began with the popularity of Pope Francis. However he cited a recent poll which shows that the new pope's popularity has not translated into people coming into the Church or returning. He said people are unwilling to put God first in their lives and accept Church teachings. He warned the prospective Catholics that they should obtain their own copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and know what the Church teaches. If anyone, "even someone in the Church," contradicts Church teaching, their error must be rejected. He told them not to have "itching ears" for novelties or individual opinions.
Bishop Braxton's remarks stressed fidelity to Church teachings and a commitment to active participation in parish life not only now, but for years to come.