More than 300 new members of Church sent into diocese in full communion
A journey of faith for 318 catechumens and candidates that was celebrated at the Easter Vigil through baptism and confirmation was recognized May 5 with The Sending of the Neophytes Mass at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Bishop Richard F. Stika celebrated the Mass and presided at the service, where the newest members of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Knoxville who participated in faith formation through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults were formally sent into the community to live their faith through their parishes in full communion with the Church.
Bishop Stika welcomed the newest members and congratulated them on their faith formation as they officially enter the Church.
“This is where I tell you about the secret handshake and code,” Bishop Stika said, sharing a lighthearted moment with the faithful. “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I welcome you in the Catholic faith.”
Bishop Stika emphasized to those 318 who are now in full communion with Christ and his Church that what separates Catholics from the world is the Body and Blood of Christ, the gift from Jesus.
“We believe in God. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe in prayer,” Bishop Stika said.
Each parish in the diocese with catechumens and candidates who entered the Church at Easter was represented at The Sending of the Neophytes service. Bishop Stika greeted and congratulated each parishioner as the parishioners processed to the front of the cathedral.
Sister Mary Timothea Elliott, RSM, who is director of the Office of Christian Formation for the Diocese of Knoxville, also welcomed the new members and congratulated them.
Bishop Stika and she also thanked the directors of religious education and the RCIA programs in the diocese for their efforts in bringing people into full communion with the Church.
“All those who became ‘new Catholics’ at the Easter Vigil on March 30, as well as their godparents and sponsors, received a personal invitation to attend the Mass and ceremony of Sending the Neophytes at Sacred Heart Cathedral on May 5th. Bishop Richard Stika encouraged them to continue their lifelong journey of conversion and discipleship in their parishes,” Sister Timothea said.
She said an impressive number of new diocesan Catholics entered the Church, with the bishop reminding the Neophytes that their life’s journey of conversion and discipleship is ongoing.
“This is the beginning of their journey of faith. It’s a lifelong walk with Christ, who strengthens them and brings them everlasting joy as they share in the holy sacrifice of the Mass and experience the forgiveness of sins,” Sister Mary Timothea said.