By Katherine Long | Editor

Singing “O Blessed be God! Who calls you by name!” candidates from parishes throughout the diocese, joined by family, friends, sponsors, pastors and RCIA leaders, celebrated the Rite of Recognition and the Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Feb. 21.

During the rite, candidates declare their desire to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. The candidates, who have been baptized previously, will complete their Christian initiation through the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. This Easter, 105 candidates from 40 parishes will come into full communion, according to figures from the diocesan Office of Liturgy and RCIA.

In his homily, Bishop Robert J. Cunningham reminded those present that “Lent is a time to reflect upon our baptism,” when our sins were forgiven. “We received new life, by which we became adopted sons and daughters of the Father, we became temples of the Holy Spirit, and members of His Body, the Church.” Quoting Pope Francis, he urged the baptized to find the date of their baptisms and celebrate it each year “as a day of new life and new hope.”

Bishop Cunningham reflected on two practices that can help one be faithful to the grace of baptism.

First, “listen to him.” Drawing from the day’s Gospel reading recounting the Transfiguration, Bishop Cunningham noted that listening is more than merely hearing; it is paying attention. The Lord “pays attention to us, and therefore, we should pay attention to him — and that is paying attention to his words,” Bishop Cunningham said. A disciple is one who hears the word of God and acts on it, he noted.

Second, receive the Sacrament of Penance. Especially during this Year of Mercy, “Lent is a good time to reflect upon our need for God’s mercy. None of us are perfect. All of us can turn more fully to the Lord,” Bishop Cunningham said. “Lent is a time for metanoia, or conversion. It’s a time to change the direction of our lives so that we are more focused on Christ and his Gospel, a time to turn away from sin and turn toward the Lord.” The Sacrament of Reconciliation “calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy,” he said.

“During your immediate preparation to receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist, our candidates will celebrate the Sacrament of Penance. May this reception of the sacrament become a regular practice in all of our lives,” Bishop Cunningham continued. He then asked the candidates to remain faithful to hearing God’s word and acting on it and to receiving the Sacrament of Penance regularly, so that “you may follow Christ in a steady faith, courageous hope and ardent love.”

Here, scenes from the celebration, as candidates are presented, as they are greeted by Bishop Cunningham, and as Bishop Cunningham reads the Rite of Recognition.

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