June 26, 2015

Archbishop welcomes newly initiated with special Mass

A group from Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes, both in Jeffersonville, sing the entrance hymn at the Mass for the newly initiated celebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on June 14. They are Carol Smith of Sacred Heart Parish, left, Dorothy Kelly of Sacred Heart Parish, William and Janet Phillips of Sacred Heart Parish, Terri Lugo of St. Augustine Parish and Ann Northam, director of religious education for the two parishes. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

A group from Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes, both in Jeffersonville, sing the entrance hymn at the Mass for the newly initiated celebrated at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on June 14. They are Carol Smith of Sacred Heart Parish, left, Dorothy Kelly of Sacred Heart Parish, William and Janet Phillips of Sacred Heart Parish, Terri Lugo of St. Augustine Parish and Ann Northam, director of religious education for the two parishes. (Photo by Natalie Hoefer)

By Natalie Hoefer

Imagine feeling “whole for the first time in many, many years,” or the joy of finding “a new home,” or even feeling “a sense of peace and connectedness” after receiving the Eucharist.

These were feelings described by some of the people who came into full communion of the Catholic Church at Easter this year. They are called the “newly initiated,” and Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin celebrated a special Mass for them at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on June 14.

During his homily, Archbishop Tobin welcomed them and commented on “the real joy we have at the growth our Lord has given to the archdiocese—the presence of our brothers and sisters who were fully initiated into the sacred mysteries at Easter this year.”

The archbishop likened the faith journey to a dream a man had. He dreamed he was in a circus tent with a tightrope overhead, and a tiny wheelbarrow at one end of the tightrope.

“God asked the man, ‘Do you believe that I can do anything, that I could wheel this wheelbarrow to the other side?’ ” the archbishop declared. “He said, ‘Sure, you’re God. You can do anything.’ And God said, ‘Then get in the wheelbarrow.’

“Belief is getting into the wheelbarrow of life, and trusting that God is leading us somewhere.”

Archbishop Tobin encouraged those in attendance to pray to Christ when faced with the “mess” of life. He suggested, “We can say to the Lord, ‘ … What I’m really asking is for you to help me sense your presence and believe. Please give me bold courage to sustain this faith, and to witness it for others who need it from me.”

He noted the joy the newly initiated bring to the Church, particularly during Communion.

“The presence of our new brothers and sisters in Christ gives us joy today as we celebrate the Eucharist, since today we can share with you the bread of life and the cup of salvation.”

Archbishop Tobin was the principal celebrant of the Mass, concelebrating with Father Steve Jarrell, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, and Father Rick Eldred, pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Bedford and St. Mary Parish in Mitchell.

Before concluding the Mass, the archbishop commented on recognizing “faces from Bedford, New Albany and all parts [of the archdiocese] in between. Your presence reminds us of the diversity in our archdiocese, but also of God’s great work.”

A group of six traveled to Indianapolis for the Mass from Most Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Augustine parishes in Jeffersonville. Among them was newly initiated Terri Lugo of St. Augustine Parish.

“The Mass was amazing,” she said at a reception afterward across the street at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center. “It was so nice of the archbishop, taking time out of his schedule to do this.

Becoming Catholic is the best choice I ever made.”

William Phillips of Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, who went through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) with Lugo as part of a shared ministry of the two Jeffersonville parishes, agreed.

“[Becoming Catholic] has been very enlightening,” he said. “I’m glad I got to share this Mass with people I’m close to.”

The Mass for the newly initiated was organized by the nine-member Archdiocesan RCIA Committee. The committee supports parish RCIA programs and implements archdiocesan RCIA guidelines, among other duties.

“The archdiocese offered this Mass [for the newly initiated] years ago,” said Gayle Schrank, a member of the committee and a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in Navilleton. “The idea was presented, and it was unanimous that we wanted to do it [again]. We wanted to have people come together in one place to celebrate their unity in the Church.”

Among those who participated in the Mass was Sherri Nierste of St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis. She also came into full communion of the Church this Easter. She was drawn to the Church through two of her children who attend St. Pius X School.

“We started to attend Mass and started to become more involved,” said Nierste. “I was just moved to become part of the Church at St. Pius through their love and sense of community there.”

She now appreciates the ability to receive the Eucharist and the sense of peace she experiences through the sacrament.

“I really feel the Holy Spirit, a change, every time I [receive] the Eucharist. [It’s] a sense of peace and connectedness that’s stronger than it was in my 40-some prior years of life,” she noted.

Kathie Ponder, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Corydon, said the Eucharist is what drew her into the Church.

“I had friends who invited me to CRHP [Christ Renews His Parish retreat], and I just fell in love right away with the concept of the Eucharist,” said Ponder, who was received into full communion of the Church this Easter. “Seeing my friends [receive] the Eucharist, and the purity of it—that it was the body, actually, and the blood, actually, not symbolically, of Jesus Christ. … I feel whole for the first time in many, many years.”

Her husband, Lance, was also received into the Church this Easter—an outcome that was the opposite of his intentions when he joined RCIA.

“I started RCIA to find out what [Kathie] was being taught and to prove her wrong,” he admitted. “The Lord had something different in mind, and he taught me.

“Something that’s been really important to me is that it hasn’t been ‘throw all that [you learned as a Protestant] away.’ It just opens up all that wasn’t available to me before. The history and the authority and the completeness in all of the sacraments, to be able to have doors available that were never available before has brought a lot of freedom among other blessings.

“I found a new home.” †

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