Candidates and catechumens are motivated by many reasons to join
the Catholic Church this Easter, including the desire to be of the same faith
as a spouse and children, or even after the loss of a spouse. At the Rite
of Election, held March 4 and 5 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington,
278 catechumens and 377 candidates from 40 parishes were welcomed.
"It will be an Easter like no other,” said Arlington Bishop
Michael F. Burbidge in his homily, “because on that sacred night you will be
united in an eternal bond with Jesus Christ and His Church."
"Walk in the light of Christ, the light we are asked to reflect to one another," said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge
The bishop said although everyone has a unique story of how they
came to this journey, the candidates and catechumens have three things in
common — the call of God, prayer and support from others, and a journey that
leads to Easter.
Bishop Burbidge invited the Catholics in attendance to renew
their commitment to remain faithful to the Gospel and leave behind any darkness
in their lives.
"Walk in the light of Christ, the light we are asked to
reflect to one another," he said.
Representative catechumens brought forth the Book of the Elect to
Bishop Burbidge for his signature when the parishes were called, including Blessed
Sacrament Church in Alexandria, Sacred Heart Church in Manassas and St. Charles
Borromeo Church in Arlington.
Kathryne Richard, a Presbyterian, was inspired by her Catholic fiancé.
"Through seeing how he lives his life through the Catholic faith, it
made me want to be stronger in my faith," she said.
Richard Mann said he wants to join his wife and daughter in the
Catholic faith at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Arlington.
Naomi Hoza, a catechumen from St. Luke Church in McLean, said her
decision to join the church began with her desire for a personal relationship
with God, that developed into a spiritual relationship. "This is like a
whole new beginning," she said. "This is what I wanted to do and I
think it is the right thing."
Being a sponsor can have an impact, as
well. Mel Carpenter, a parishioner of St. John the Apostle Church in
Leesburg, has been a sponsor for eight people. He said he learns a lot from
"There's a big need (for sponsors) and we are trying to
encourage more people to do it," he said. It renews his faith every year,
and helps him to keep in sync with the church calendar, he said.
Bruce Halbrook is in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of
Adults) program at All Saints Church in Manassas, which has nearly 190 adults
and children in the RCIA and RCIC programs. Nearly 60 people were at the Rite
of Election and 100 will be baptized at Easter. Halbrook’s wife, who died in
February, was Catholic. Halbrook went to see Deacon Brian Majewski after her
death and asked about joining the church.
When asked what his wife would think, Halbrook said she would be
shocked because she never expected him to convert. The process has given him
some comfort, he said.
Pete and Michelle Wittkoff of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle
decided Catholicism closely matched what they wanted in both their lives. Pete
said his and his wife’s ancestors were Catholic, though he didn’t grow up in
any formal religion, and Michelle was Protestant. Their son, Alexander, attends
St. Francis of Assisi School and will be confirmed this year. Pete will receive
all the sacraments, while Michelle will receive the sacrament of Holy Eucharist
Wittkoff lost his mother recently and said it would have been a
completely different experience if he was not as far on the journey to
“It changes life a lot when you
know that it’s not just you and what’s around you like the secular world seems
to indicate,” Wittkoff said of the support he and his wife have found in the
The Office of Catechetics is supported by the Bishop’s
To buy photos from the Rite of Election go to catholicherald.smugmug.com.