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Catechumens express readiness to share the life of Jesus

 022621Rite of Election 2021

Sponsor and godmother Kim Nondorf of Nativity of Our Savior, Portage (front, left) reads a prayer with her relative and catechumen Caleb Potchen (front, center), 11, from St. Bridget, Hobart, during the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels in Gary on Feb. 21.  During the service, the catechumens were presented by a priest dean, after which Bishop Robert J. McClory asked sponsors to support those journeying into full comm with the Roman Catholic Church. Each catechumen enrolled their name before they were declared the Elect. (Anthony D. Alonzo photo)



Northwest Indiana Catholic


      “Bless all your adopted children and add these chosen ones to the harvest of your new covenant.”

-       Prayer over the Elect by Bishop Robert J. McClory


      GARY – “One definition of a Christian is ‘someone who has met another Christian,’” Bishop Robert J. McClory told dozens of catechumens, their godparents and family members on Feb. 21 as he accepted their readiness for initiation into the Catholic Church during the Rite of Election service.

      The reason for that definition, he explained, is that every Christian is charged with spreading the faith to those they meet and bringing them into the faith.

      With that in mind, the bishop thanked all the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) directors, godparents, directors of religious education and pastors who’ve “shared Jesus with those (catechumens) who came today” for the Rite of Election liturgy.

      “Welcome and congratulations,” he greeted the catechumens at the Cathedral of the Holy Angels. “Today is a day to celebrate what we anticipate, in just a few weeks, will be the baptism of these elect, (when they will share the life of Jesus).

      “To know ‘Who is Jesus?’, continued the bishop, “Go to what he said, listen to his words today. He is more than a good teacher, more than a prophet, more than a miracle worker. He is the Son of God, and he reveals his Father in the Gospel: “Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me.’” (John 12:44-45)

      Explaining that Jesus performed miracles while on Earth to show people that he was God, since they believed only God could cure the sick and heal the lame, Bishop McClory excitedly told the catechumens, “This is awesome, incredible; that Jesus has revealed himself as God!

      “When he (rises) from the dead, we can say, ‘I believe this!’” added the bishop. “In the sacraments, when we say yes to Jesus, that revelation he made to us is true, and all of our other decisions flow from that.”

      Father Doug Mayer, pastor at St. Paul in Valparaiso and head of the Porter County deanery, formally presented the catechumens to the bishop. “They have found strength in God’s grace and support in our community’s prayers and example,” he said in asking the bishop to approve their participation in the sacraments.

      “It’s a joyful thing to behold,” Father Mayer said of the Rite of Election, “the movement of the Holy Spirit alive in the 21st century, touching people that we see and work with every day. This makes it visible, illuminating the very life of the living Lord.”

      Debra Calvin’s decision to seek baptism as a Catholic was born of grief, she revealed. “My mother passed away (just a year after my father’s death), and (not) meds or therapy, nothing got me out of depression,” said Calvin. “One day, I just looked up ‘religions’ on YouTube and started watching Catholic Masses,” finding livestreamed liturgies at St. Patrick in Chesterton.

      Eight months ago, “I reached out to Sacred Heart in Wanatah, which is small and close to home, and in August I began attending (RCIA) classes,” added Calvin, who was raised a Baptist but was never baptized. “It was amazing, and I loved it. I’m at peace now,” Calvin said.

      Debra Calvin was joined at RCIA classes by her daughter, Destiny Calvin, who had separately begun attending Masses in 2019 with her boyfriend. “I felt so welcomed and wanted to start my journey to join the Church, and I reached out to my mom, because I thought it was what we both needed,” Destiny Calvin explained.

      Attending the Rite of Election with the mother-daughter duo was Tammy Mason, an RCIA catechist at Sacred Heart who converted to Catholicism four years ago. “It is a source of great joy to help in this way,” she noted. “I want to help (the catechumens) fall in love with the Eucharist – a big part of any conversion.”

      Eleven-year-old Caleb Potchen has read the entire Bible in preparation for his initiation into the Catholic faith at St. Bridget in Hobart, adding that, “I’ve been praying a lot, and it has been helping me. I’ve been going to church for a long time.”

He looks forward to joining his father, Kevin, and stepmother, Sara, both Catholics, as well as his new baby sister, Kaylee, who was recently baptized a Catholic.

      Caleb’s preparation, aided by his godmother, Kim Nondorf of Nativity of Our Savior in Portage, is impressive. Asked “Who is Jesus?” he quickly replied, “The Son of God,” without missing a beat, adding that Jesus is important, “because he died on the cross for us.”

      “It means everything in the world to me (to be his godmother),” said Nondorf, Caleb’s father’s cousin. “Kevin has been near and dear to my heart, so helping Caleb with his Catholic studies is special.”

      Timothy Young, of Chesterton, considers himself “a lifelong Catholic,” who was never baptized. He attends St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Student Center in Valparaiso, having graduated from Valparaiso University and completing a Catholic year of service at Amate House in Chicago, which develops young adult leaders into life-long social justice advocates who serve their communities while deepening their faith.

      “That’s where I determined that I wanted to be a teacher; I feel it is my duty to use my talents to help others,” said Young, now a social studies teacher at Boone Grove High School in Valparaiso.

      The Rite of Election was important enough to catechumen Lisa Wedow, of LaPorte, that she attended before heading off to the hospital to give birth to a daughter, Tommi Nicole.

      “It’s beautiful to see the joy that they have in becoming who they are called to be and to see them grow in spirituality,” said Emily Hynes, the new RCIA director at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Valparaiso, of the catechumens.

      Preparing through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults or separate programs for children for up to a year, most of the catechumens will receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist during the Easter Vigil service at their parish on Holy Saturday.

      “Will you be Christians about whom others say, ‘I’m a Christian because I met another Christian?’” Bishop McClory challenged the elect.

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