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March 24, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 6   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
 
12-year-old gets her wish
to meet pope, see Vatican

 
Psychology practice aims
to aid priests, vowed religious

 
'An emotional and
spectacular gesture'
Hundreds to come into
full Communion with the Church
 

Josie Valdez, left, godmother to the Ali children, Santia and Tristan; behind them their parents, Teresa and Stan Al.
MICHELE JURICH/THE CATHOLIC VOICE

Wearing a bright purple ruffled dress, Santia Ali, age 6, was literally dancing in the aisle of the Cathedral of Christ the Light on March 8 after the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

Hundreds of people attended one of three services the weekend of March 8-9, in which those who are preparing for baptism and those seeking full communion with the Church were presented to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.

It was a happy day for the Ali family of Union City. Santia and her brother Tristan, 9, will be baptized at the Easter Vigil at St. Anne Parish.

"He's becoming a full-blown Catholic," said proud dad Stan Ali. Stan and Teresa were baptized and raised Catholic — he in Nigeria, she in the Philippines. With godmother Josie Valdez, they were celebrating a milestone for the children.

"You're not just joining an organization or a club," the bishop told the gathering in his homily. "What you are doing is becoming a follower of a person, by standing up and declaring to us and the whole world that you want to be a disciple of Jesus Christ."

 
At the rite

210 catechumens
(A catechumen is a person who has never been baptized. After the Rite of Election, they are known as the elect.)

80 children
(Children who have reached the age of reason — typically 7-8 — and have not received their baptism should receive all of their Sacraments of Initiation together.)

259 candidates
(A candidate is someone who was baptized in a Christian tradition and now desires to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. Candidates also include baptized Catholics who never completed their sacraments of initiation and weren't raised in the faith.)
 
At the end of the homily, he told them, "I'm so proud of you. I want to bless you and welcome you."

During the ceremony, the name of each catechumen and candidate was read aloud by a parish representative. As they stood, Bishop Barber, who was seated in a chair in front of the altar, turned to each and acknowledged them.

Several rows of the cathedral were filled with parishioners from Holy Spirit in Fremont, where Deacon Bill Drobick, director of religious education, interviews those inquiring about coming into the Catholic Church.

The parish had 19 catechumens, one person to be welcomed and a dozen to be recognized. In addition, 16 adults have been confirmed.

"Pope Francis is the biggest reason," Deacon Drobick said. "Bishop Barber has the same kind of pastoral soul."

Deacon Drobick also credits Roma Downey's Bible TV series, and EWTN commentators such as Colleen Carroll Campbell with helping people on the journey to conversion.

At the end of each rite, each parish group was invited to the front of the cathedral to have its photo taken with the bishop. As the large group from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Brentwood moved forward, the bright blue necktie worn by Ivan Sang, 9½, drew a compliment from the bishop.

Ivan, who was wearing a gray suit, white shirt and tie, was soon to be the principal for the day at his elementary school, his father said.

Soon, too, he'll receive the sacraments. And it was the first time he had met a bishop.

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