By Tony DeGol
Even the most powerful man in the world knew the power of a simple love letter.
During the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, Bishop Mark explained that President Harry Truman had written more than 1,300 love letters to his wife, Bess.
The Bishop suggested that those seeking initiation in the Catholic Church should follow Truman’s lead.
“Write a love letter – with pen and paper – to Jesus,” Bishop Mark encouraged. “Tell Him how much you love him and how much you desire to be loved by Him, to be united with Him in and through His Church. Don’t be afraid to share with Him the questions, doubts, and concerns that still remain.”
The Bishop knows the response they would receive.
“The Holy Spirit will tell you to bring it to your sponsor or member of the team who have been assisting you in preparation for the Easter sacraments,” Bishop Mark assured.
His homily remarks came during the ritual in which men, women, and youth on the Christian Initiation journey experienced yet another milestone in their formation journey as they prepare to celebrate the sacraments at Easter.
Prior to this point, they have spent time prayerfully considering the steps they are taking, and they have participated in classes at their parishes in which they learned the teachings and beauty of Catholicism.
During the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversation, which occurred on February 26 at both diocesan Cathedrals, catechumens, or those seeking Baptism, accompanied by their godparents, signed their names in the Book of the Elect, which was then signed by Bishop Mark and carried in procession along with bowls of incense, symbolizing prayers rising to God.
Candidates, or those already baptized and seeking the other sacraments of initiation, also came forward during the ritual to be greeted by the Bishop.
Luke Vincent, a candidate from Our Lady of Victory Parish in State College, was raised in a religious, Protestant family, but like many other young adults, fell away from organized religion when he was in college.
Now, he is a husband and a father to three children. He felt a pull to return to worship and decided that he wanted to join his wife in the Catholic faith.
“Over the last 18 months, my faith has grown tremendously,” Vincent mentioned. “It just came to a point where I couldn’t deny the truth of the Catholic Church, and it felt like the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
He is especially fascinated by the emphasis on the sacraments in the Catholic faith.
“It’s one of the most impactful parts of being a Catholic – being able to participate in the sacraments,” he added.
According to Diocesan Coordinator of Christian Initiation Jeanne Thompson, welcoming Vincent and the dozens of others seeking initiation in the Catholic Church during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversation was a moment of great joy not only for the candidates and catechumens, but for the entire Diocesan Church.
“We have men, women, and children who, own their own, absolutely said yes, I want to become Catholic, and for our Church, that is growth,” Thompson reminded. “Our hope is that they will immerse themselves in their parish faith communities.”
[Photos: (Top) A catechumen signs the Book of the Elect; (First Inset) A catechumen is supported by her sponsor during the Rite of Election; (Second Inset) Candidate Luke Vincent poses with his wife; (Third Inset) Bishop Mark poses for photos after the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.]