Joining the Church: ‘There is no greater joy’

| March 12, 2014 | 2 Comments
From left, Bishop Andrew Cozzens greets Kate Valiant, LaVonne Luker and Jareck Horton of Sts. Joachim and Anne in Shakopee during The Rite of Election and The Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of St. Paul March 9. Luker and Horton are catechumens, and Valiant is Luker’s sponsor. The catechumens and sponsors all came forward to present themselves to Bishop Cozzens, carrying the Book of the Elect. A similar event took place at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

From left, Bishop Andrew Cozzens greets Kate Valiant, LaVonne Luker and Jareck Horton of Sts. Joachim and Anne in Shakopee during The Rite of Election and The Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of St. Paul March 9. Luker and Horton are catechumens, and Valiant is Luker’s sponsor. The catechumens and sponsors all came forward to present themselves to Bishop Cozzens, carrying the Book of the Elect. A similar event took place at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Jareck Horton grew up Baptist, but said he later lost his faith. When he started searching again, the people who surrounded him, like his sponsor Steve Ricci, along with things he read, led him to Catholicism.

Ricci gave him the book “Rediscover Catholicism” by Matthew Kelly and a copy of The Catechism of the Catholic Church. “I knew the word,” Horton said. “But now I’m really starting to understand the word.”

Horton is one of 82 catechumens from around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church who came to the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of St. Paul March 9. At the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, 141 catechumens joined the elect. In total, 654 people — catechumens and candidates — participated.

“It just spoke to me, and this is the path I seem to be taking,” Horton, who attends Sts. Joachim and Anne parish in Shakopee, said of the Catholic faith.

The Rite of Election marks the beginning of the final preparation of catechumens — those not baptized — for the sacraments of initiation (baptism, Eucharist, confirmation), usually celebrated during the Easter Vigil.

Kameron Gillen, a catechumen from Divine Mercy in Faribault, is sharing the journey to the Church with her 6-year-old son. Never having attended church as a child, she wants her son to experience the community that she didn’t have growing up, getting to know the other members of the parish and sharing beliefs.

Bishop Andrew Cozzens offers a handshake to catechumen Neal Reykdal, who attends St. Thomas Becket in Eagan and is going through the parish RCIA program. Also standing before the bishop is Peter Rundquist of St. Thomas Becket, who serves as a sponsor in the program. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Bishop Andrew Cozzens offers a handshake to catechumen Neal Reykdal, who attends St. Thomas Becket in Eagan and is going through the parish RCIA program. Also standing before the bishop is Peter Rundquist of St. Thomas Becket, who serves as a sponsor in the program. Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

“We’re doing it together, so it’s a good journey for us together,” she said.

Those in attendance said recent news stories about past clergy sexual misconduct is not affecting their decision to join the Church.

“I have had my doubts a couple of times,” said Angela Rudd, a candidate from Nativity of Our Lord in St. Paul. “But, I’m not going to let it get between me and our Father.”

Cory Mathews, a candidate from St. Pius X in White Bear Lake, said he has no hesitation joining the Church before his wedding.

“After we get married, [our faith] will be something we share between the two of us,” he said, and it won’t be impacted by outside factors.

During the Call to Continuing Conversion, 188 candidates — individuals who already are baptized and are preparing for entrance into the Catholic Church — were recognized at the Cathedral, and 243 at the Basilica.

Karen Speltz, a member of St. Pius X in White Bear Lake, was at the Cathedral to sponsor Mathews, her fiance.

“My faith is very important to me, so having someone to share it with means a lot,” she said.

Mathews grew up Lutheran, but the two decided together that it was important for them to have one faith.

“One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the gift of faith,” Speltz said. “I would love to be able to give that to our kids and have that as part of our family someday.”

The rite also is a reminder that the catechumens and candidates are not only becoming members of their local parish, but also of the broader Church.

“If you will give yourself to this Church, you will find that there is no greater joy in your life than your Catholic faith because this Church brings you Jesus,” Bishop Andrew Cozzens told those gathered during his homily.

Horton looks forward to that joy in celebrating the faith. “I haven’t had that in a long time, and the Catholic family is amazing,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to learning more and being more enlightened, just praising, really. I love to praise.”

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  • tschraad

    I wonder if Bishop Andrew Cozzens got the message that modesty in dress may be a subject that needs addressing.

    • Barb

      Yes, agree totally. And where are the parents of these girls who go to church wearing short shorts, mini skirts, low-cut tops, etc.? Beach-appropriate clothing is not for church!