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The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A memorable occasion at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral


Throughout the course of our lives we will have many experiences, some so significant that they leave an impression with us for a very long time. Graduating from college, marrying your best friend, and the birth of your children are some of those memorable events that will forever be ingrained in the fiber of our being. For some if not all, who were called to the Cathedral this past Sunday, they can count this as another memory in their record of historical events.

On the first Sunday during Lent, all those who have been preparing to become members of the Catholic Church were present and accounted for at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral as they celebrated the Rite of Election with the Archbishop and the assembly of believers. A total of twenty in all were among those being initiated; twelve catechumens and eight candidates. Amongst the candidates was Rochelle R. Knowles, the wife of Kevan Knowles Jr, of "bahama CATHOLIC guy."

Coming from various Parishes within the Archdiocese of Nassau, the catechumens and candidates have been participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program for the past several months to a year. It was during this process that they became familiar with the teachings of the Catholic Church as they prepared themselves for receiving full communion in Baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion during the Easter service.

Before they continue the final stretch of their journey, they along with their godparents, sponsors and members of the assembly of the Catholic Church met with the Archbishop at the Cathedral to express their readiness to become fully initiated into the Church. Those who will be receiving Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion will be invited to sign their name in the Book of the Elect as an acknowledgement that they will do God's work until He comes again.

The Church does not force anyone to join the Church; it is only through the Holy Spirit that one comes to recognize the need to join the Church thereby becoming a member of believers in Christ through the one true Catholic Church. As a member of St Thomas More Parish from birth, both married and raising my family as Catholics it was a joyous day for me and my children as we witnessed my wife acknowledge her readiness to join the Catholic Church. Even after declining a year ago while going through the process, the desire to now accept the call couldn't have come at a better time; as both she and my daughter will be confirmed during the Easter Vigil service. As the saying goes, "you can run, but you can't hide."

Following the Gospel reading, taken from Mark 1:12-15, Archbishop Pinder addresses the congregation and explains the reason for gathering together on the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is most importantly a period of preparation for Baptism, therefore we are gathered at the Cathedral, the faithful, including catechumen and candidates gather around their Bishop to celebrate the Rite of Election as we do this afternoon. Those seeking to enter the Church joined their communities each Sunday, but only for the Liturgy of the Word, after which they withdraw to pray and reflect on the words of sacred scriptures proclaimed for them to hear.

On the first Sunday of Lent as time approaches for their full initiation into the life of the Church they are presented to the Bishop so that their names can be inscribed into the Book of the Elect. The reason for signing their name into the book is a public declaration that they intend to live as one who follows Christ and will now be referred to as "the elect." The candidates who will only be receiving Confirmation and First Holy Communion did not have to sign their names into the book as they have already received baptism therefore should already be doing the work of God.

As an active member of our Parish, Rochelle was just as much Catholic as we were, but we welcome her at the table of our Lord when we will all be receiving the Eucharist together as a family. Members of the Church approached her after the ceremony and mentioned to her that they had no idea that she was not a Catholic. She went through the process during each and every service, knows all of the prayers and rituals as that of any paper documented Catholic. With respect for the Church and our marriage, she made it a point to raise our children Catholic when many of our family members have fallen away from the Church. Education begins at home, but is also cemented in the Catholic school system as we have confirmed this through our kid's performance in the catholic education system from Kindergarten to High School.

Being a very emotional individual I'm sure she will shed a few tears on Easter Sunday, tears of joy as she is welcomed officially into the Catholic Church. When we now approach the altar to receive communion she will not be left behind in the pews. There are many couples who share a similar story as do my family, where one individual is Catholic and the other isn't, but nothing before its time! The process may seem scary to those wanting to take that first step, and would rather just sit on the sidelines and watch as their loved ones participate fully in the sacraments, however it does not have to be. It's very rewarding when you take that first step in the process and share your experiences as an active member with those who are just getting their feet wet into the Catholic Church. My wife was in that same boat, but was able to share her eighteen year experience as a background Catholic.

Welcome home all who are being called to join the Church!

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