Log in


Put Faith in Your Opinions

Larry Lambert, Catechumen, Silently listening

Larry Lambert, a catechumen at Christ the King Church, Pine Mountain, attended Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, New Orleans earlier this month and heard something said by the celebrant that he has yet to forget. Equal parts storyteller and historian, there’s a good chance Lambert  “The words listen and silent are made up of the same letters. They are the same word. You can’t have one without the other.” Lambert enthusiastically told this story while explaining to the Southern Crosswhy he has decided to become a Catholic. “I feel our entire lives are spiritual journeys,” said Lambert who served in Vietnam as a flight medic after being drafted not long after his 18th birthday in 1971.

The Sarasota, Florida native and father of two adult daughters, jokes about how he had a “12-day summer” that year and that he’s “lived about five lifetimes.” He plans to live the remainder of his life as a Catholic, which means a lot to him as his daughters are Catholics. Living and worshipping in metro Atlanta and New Orleans, respectively. “There are a lot of reasons why I decided to become Catholic. One is the history of the church and its relationship with Jesus Christ,” said Lambert, 67. “I also love the way the church holds The Virgin Mary in such high spiritual esteem.”

During those lifetimes as a veteran he served for more than 18 years in the Florida National Guard, and more recently as a Professor Emeritus for Tulane. Becoming a Catholic was something he has always been interested in. Lambert’s late wife, Pamela Rollins, played the organ and helped with youth ministries while the family attended First United Methodist of Pine Mountain. Rollins passed away following an accident in 1996. She was just 42 years old. Her strong faith remains an anchor for the family. “I am learning a lot,” he said of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes. Lambert took RCIA classes with one of his daughters in New Orleans but didn’t complete the process. “I didn’t take the final exam,” he joked.

Lambert has been attending Mass at Christ the King Church  for “close to a year.” He attended Mass at other parishes in the past while in the military. Lambert credits the help of his sponsor Mary Elaine Thompson, a long-time parishioner at Christ the King Church, and parish RCIA instructor Neal Garn, who has been involved in faith formation at the parish for the past 15 years. “I give Neal a lot of credit,” said Lambert. Another reason Lambert listed why he is becoming a Catholic is simple, “I have always liked how the Masses end with the words ‘Go in peace,” he said.

Mi camino al encuentro de Dios

By Eloisa Newman

El pasado domingo, primer Domingo de Cuaresma, en la Basílica Catedral San Juan Bautista en Savannah, se celebró el Rito de la Elección de los catecúmenos, presidido por nuestro Obispo el Reverendísimo Monseñor Stephen D. Parkes.

Los catecúmenos llegaron con gran emoción y un poco de nerviosismo, para celebrar el Rito de Elección, uno de los últimos pasos antes de convertirse efectivamente en miembros de la Iglesia Católica por el bautismo.
Todos acompañados de sus padrinos, catequistas y familiares, en especial con los que han recorrido el camino del catecumenado, como los sacerdotes y diáconos que les han acompañado y guiado en este proceso.  Entre ellos se encontraba Lorena Estrada quien nació en Texas de descendencia mexicana, para quien su vida ha cambiado en los últimos seis meses, cuando escucho el llamado de Dios.  Desde ahí se ha venido preparado para recibir los sacramentos de iniciación—el Bautismo, la Primera Comunión y la Confirmación— y sueña con casarse por la Iglesia. 

Buscando un cambio en su vida Lorena se movió de Texas al Sur de Georgia donde conoció a su prometido quien junto con su familia han sido el ejemplo e inspiración para su conversión a la Fe Católica. 

Lorena nos comparte " Nací de madre católica y padre cristiano a quien le habían infundido que la fe católica no era buena,(en parte hasta temerosa), en ese tiempo mis padres no estaban comprometidos con su fe, por lo que la habían ignorado por completo  y nunca me bautizaron, así que crecí muy confundida sin saber realmente qué era la fe.  Me hubiera gustado haber sido bautizada cuando nací y prepararme con los sacramentos y enseñanzas de la Iglesia, pero no fue hasta ahora que tengo veintidós años, gracias a Dios que puso en mi camino a mi prometido y su madre, quien insistió en invitarme a la Iglesia Católica, donde a través de un folleto del programa de RICA, Dios me llamo.  Agradezco a Dios también por el Diacono Larry, quien desde el primer momento que me acerqué para pedir información sobre el programa, me hizo sentir bienvenida, parte de esa Iglesia, de esa familia en la fe, eso es lo que encontré en mi grupo de RICA.  Estamos ahí aprendiendo sobre nuestra fe y apoyándonos como hermanos. Ahora entiendo un poco más acerca de los sacramentos, la Biblia y lo que el catecismo nos enseña.  Estoy en este camino, aprendiendo.  Es como si mis ojos se hubieran abierto a una nueva vida, y una luz me dejara ver todo lo hermoso que Dios nos da por amor y misericordia. Mi fe estuvo perdida y muchas veces la busque en iglesias de otras denominaciones, pero nunca encontré la presencia de Dios en ellas, y no fue hasta que en nuestra Iglesia Católica el Señor se me ha manifestado, el Espíritu Santo me ha iluminado.  Ahí es donde encontré las puertas abiertas a mi fe, he sentido su Santa presencia, puedo decir que lo que estoy viviendo desde que inicié el proceso, ha sido una experiencia increíble y hermosa.  Sé que este es el camino que me lleva al encuentro con Dios. Mi familia está más unida y apoyándome incondicionalmente, mi suegra que ahora es mi madrina. va conmigo a mis clases de formación todos los lunes, y al llegar a casa compartimos en familia lo aprendido. El centro de nuestro hogar es Dios y nuestra Madre Santísima está cada día con nosotros.

Es muy importante para mí el poder comprender y participar mejor de las devociones y tradiciones de la Iglesia que antes no entendía.  También lo que me motiva a seguir conociendo más de mi fe es mi hijastro, para quien yo quiero ser un buen ejemplo de madre y buena cristiana.  Al igual que yo no había sido bautizada siendo joven, ahora en el transcurso de estos meses él ha ido aprendiendo junto conmigo y sé que Dios le esta iluminando al igual que lo ha hecho conmigo y muy pronto podrá recibir sus sacramentos.  

Mis papas están muy contentos del paso que estoy dando y me apoyan desde lejos. Me siento muy feliz de haber escuchado el llamado de Dios y quiero seguir adelante conociéndolo, escuchándolo y compartiendo el misterio de su fe.  Mi meta es estar en comunión con Dios y compartir la alegría de conocerlo.”

Así como Lorena, muchas otras personas están dando este paso en el camino de la fe y han experimentado en su interior una conversión donde han tenido un encuentro con Jesús y ahora disfrutan de nuestra Fe Católica. 

 

Rite of Election is a celebration of choices and the mysteries God has in store for all of us

 

MACON, GA.- Jason Ruiz, a parishioner at St. Anne Church, Columbus put his hands on the shoulders of his son Lewis, 14, and daughter Luann, 16, and bowed his head. The active duty United States Army soldier was inside St. Joseph Church, Macon as his kid’s godparent, along with their mom and the couple’s three younger children, who were also there in support. The Ruiz family came to support Luann and Lewis as they began their journeys as Catholics by celebrating the Rite to Election. Jason, their sponsor, was standing witness to his children. As Bishop Stephen D. Parkes asked the catechumens if they “wish to fully enter into the life of the church?,” everyone standing answered “We do,” including Jason, a longtime Catholic who was clearly caught up in the moment. “I think it’s what brings our family together and goes along with our tradition,” he said following Mass. “This is a big part of their lives and I hope it guides them on their journey.”

Father Emanuel Vasconcelos, OFM Conv. was also in attendance to support the Ruiz family. Vasconcoles is the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at St. Anne Church and helped instruct Lewis and Luann during the process. In his third year as an RCIA coordinator, Vasconcelos knows times are different but the mission and purpose of Rite of Election remains the same. “I think it’s important for us in the faith, those of us that have been practicing and may have been born Catholic, to encourage [them] and to see those called to the sacraments,” he said. “Even during a pandemic God is still using people to bring to the faith.”

The Rite to Election Mass for catechumens within the Columbus and Macon deaneries, which took place at St. Joseph Church Saturday, Feb. 20, was described by Father Scott Winchel, the pastor at St. Joseph, as “an opportunity for the church to welcome these individuals into her fold. It is a way on behalf of the church to invite them and embrace them on their journey toward the Lord and ultimately to eternal life.”

Following readings from the Books of Genesis (2: 7-9, 3: 1-7) andRomans (5:12, 17-19), during his homily Bishop Parkes spoke of mysteries and choices, the message mixed within the text of those scriptures that were read moments earlier. “With God there is mystery so there’s always a little of that unknown,” said Parkes. “In life there’s beautiful mysteries, something that we need to celebrate. We really can’t know everything so let's leave something for God. There’s mystery to how God invited you to this place, in the year of St. Joseph.”

Of the choice the catechumens were making on this day he said, “When asked why you’re becoming Catholic I hope you’ll be able to say ‘I’m becoming a Catholic because God has called me to be here’,” said Parkes to the catechumens towards the close of the celebration. ‘I’m becoming Catholic because there’s mystery in God’s plan.’”

Following the Bishop’s homily the seven catechumens, Lawrence Lambert, the Ruizs, Rivers Shackleford, Elizabeth and Lauren Tanner and Brooklyn Youngclaus, each made their way to the altar along with their godparents in order to sign the Book of Elect. Youngclaus, her black and white mask matching her sweater, smiled as she signed the book. Her smiling face reflected that of a child on Christmas day. 

Parkes held the book aloft after the seven new Catholics had signed their names to it. “The reason for us being here today is that God has elected you, God has chosen you to be a part of our family,” said Parkes afterward. “Today is a very important chapter in your life with God.”

Asked how he felt after the Mass, Lambert, who was making his first visit to St. Joseph Church, said of the experience, “It was beautiful and so spiritually assuring. It was a true blessing in my life.”

 

 

Keep Connected

Stay up to date by subscribing to our flash briefings.

Southern Cross
Catholic Pastoral Center
2170 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404
Phone: 912-201-4054
888-295-7144 Toll-Free (in GA)

Copyright © Diocese of Savannah. All Rights Reserved.