PROVIDENCE — When he was growing up, many of John Daigneau’s childhood friends were Catholic. He sometimes attended Mass with them and went to Catholic summer camp. He graduated from Providence College, a Dominican institution.
“All my life I’ve been around Catholics,” said Daigneau, 58, a retired U.S. Army non-commissioned officer who decided last year to “cross the Tiber” and be baptized into the Catholic Church.
“I’ve always been fascinated with the Catholic faith. It’s great. A lot of people have been helping us on this journey,” said Daigneau, who along with his 12-year-old daughter, Ruth, and three other relatives have been going through the RCIA program at Christ the King Church in Kingston.
Daigneau and his family will be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil this year. As catechumens, Daigneau and his daughter will be baptized and receive Holy Communion and Confirmation.
“Everyone else was doing it, so I hopped on the boat with them,” said daughter Ruth, referring to three other relatives who, as candidates, were baptized in other ecclesial communities and are also becoming Catholic this year.
The Daigneau family were among those who on Feb. 21 attended the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence.
Nineteen catechumens and 34 candidates, those who will receive their first Holy Communion and be confirmed, gathered at the cathedral with their sponsors to pledge their commitment to continuing the journey to full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
“Those of you here today represent many others across the diocese, who are traveling the same journey of faith as you are,” said Bishop Thomas J. Tobin, who presided over the ceremony in which he congratulated the soon-to-be-Catholics and their sponsors for their faith and commitment.
Noting that they come from diverse backgrounds and personal experiences, the bishop told the catechumens and candidates that their faith is a gift from God, and that the Catholic faith can provide them a signpost in an ever-changing world.
“The faith we proclaim today, the faith in which you continue to journey, is the North Star that will give you sure direction if ever you get lost in this very complex and confused world,” said Bishop Tobin, who also quoted from Pope Francis’ first encyclical, “Lumen fidei” (The Light of Faith).
“It’s only the light of faith that is able to illuminate every other aspect of our lives,” said Bishop Tobin, who also echoed St. Augustine in adding that “there’s a hole in our hearts if we don’t have faith in God.”
Before the bishop’s remarks, the service included a Liturgy of the Word with readings from the Old and New Testaments and the Gospel.
Following the homily, the catechumens were called by name, and their godparents were asked to affirm that they had taken seriously their commitment to learning about and growing in the faith.
“Your own godparents and teachers and this entire community have spoken in your favor,” Bishop Tobin said. “The Church in the name of Christ accepts their judgement and calls you to the Easter sacraments. Since you have already heard the call of Christ, you must now express your response to that call clearly and in the presence of the whole Church.”
The catechumens responded, “We do,” after being asked if they wanted to enter fully into the life of the Church. They then approached the altar, accompanied by their godparents, to sign the Book of the Elect and to greet Bishop Tobin.
“I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil,” Bishop Tobin said.
“Thanks be to God,” the elect responded.
The candidates were also presented with their sponsors, and they made similar affirmations that they had also come to a deeper appreciation of their baptism, that they had reflected on the Church’s tradition and that they had advanced in a life of love and service of others.
“My dear candidates, the Church recognizes your desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a fuller share at Christ’s Eucharistic table,” Bishop Tobin said. “Join with us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”
The service ended with the bishop praying over the elect and the candidates before offering the final blessing and dismissal.
Jeffrey Guilfoil, 35, who has been going through the RCIA program at St. Patrick Church in Burrillville, is joining the Catholic Church as a convert from Lutheranism.
“I’m here because I’m facing my own mortality, realizing that life isn’t forever, and to just be a better person,” Guilfoil said, adding that he is “looking forward to journeying in faith.”
Cory McSweeney, 23, who has also been going through the RCIA program at St. Patrick Church in Burrillville, is a catechumen who said he is joining the Catholic Church from no prior religious upbringing.
“I wanted to learn about the faith and be a part of this community,” McSweeney said.