By Tim Harfmann
Aehee Hong and her teenage son, Terrence, walked to greet Brooklyn’s Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. They, and hundreds more, are taking the final steps along a journey into the Catholic faith. “I’m so blessed. And I feel very thankful to God,” said Hong. They participated in what’s known as the ‘rite of elections.’ They all underwent an extensive period of instruction about Catholicism in anticipation of joining the Church in time for Christ’s Resurrection.
Bishop DiMarzio described their ultimate goal that will be reached at the Easter Vigil; “These are people that wish to be Baptized and to be Confirmed and receive their first Eucharist at Easter.”
During the Rite of Election, the future Catholics declared their intention to become members of the faith; and the Church made its election of them to receive the sacraments. Hong is an immigrant from South Korea. She is following the example of her sister Teresa, a full-fledged Catholic who died last year. “All I could do is pray to God. I couldn’t do anything else but pray to God. I just felt God calling me,” said Hong.
Hong and her 15-year old son, Terrance Rim, gained a lot from their efforts at Catholic formation. “Every day we practice. We sit at the dinner table. We practice prayers. It’s great experience. We learn together,” said Rim.
At the rite of election ceremony on Sunday, March 10th, were people who will be Baptized when they enter the Church this Easter. They are called ‘catechumens.’ Bishop DiMarzio spoke to them and explained that keeping their conversion strong is the work of a lifetime. “Sometimes we see people are converted, but it doesn’t last very long. So, I will continue to remind them of that. This is a lifetime commitment, and we want you to continue with your process of conversion that takes time,” said Bishop DiMarzio.
This Easter, a large number of ‘catechumens’ will start their lives of catholic faith. Ninety-seven are children and 466 are adults — a total of 563 catechumens. There’s also another group called the ‘candidates.’ They are people who’ve already been baptized and want to enjoy the full life and sacraments of the Church. There are 457 Catholics who will be Confirmed and receive the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil and 76 are Christian converts to Catholicism — totaling 533 candidates.
Theodore Musco, Secetary of Evangelization and Catechesis, heads up the faith formation work done in the Brooklyn diocese. “They have relatives, friends who are Catholic already. And they invite them to participate in the life of the Church. So, we’re very fortunate to be able to then support them with the programs we have here in the diocese,” said Musco.
Hong and Rim will be welcomed into the faith during the Easter Vigil at their parish of Saint Robert Bellarmine Church in Bayside, Queens. “Just in case something happens to me, I want my son to get Confirmation, like me, so he can believe in God and he becomes strong. If something happens to me, he will still have a God because God is forever.”
The Easter Vigil celebration is on Saturday, April 20th.