A letter of welcome

North Texas Catholic
(Jun 25, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

NTC/Juan Guajardo

Easter Vigil this year was a big night, for you, who entered the Church, and the diocese.

To give you some historical context, the diocese averages somewhere in the eight-hundred range for the total number of souls baptized and making their Profession of Faith at the Vigil.

This year, we had 1,544 (629 baptisms and 915 Professions of Faith).

While some Catholics have never attended an Easter Vigil Mass, many of us have, becoming Catholic at vigils of the past. So, some of us know the exhilaration you are feeling.

Some of us are also familiar with the troubles you may have had to overcome; for some of you have had to endure loss along the way, giving up all to follow Christ. Some of you are struggling with how to handle relationships which have become complicated, as many of you come from backgrounds antithetical to the faith you now profess. Family, friends, work, and your overall social life may be in a state of upheaval.

It is important for you to know you are not alone. When you became Catholic, whether by baptism or Profession of Faith, you joined a supernatural family, one tied together in Christ by the three “Bonds of Unity,” which are visible bonds of communion: “profession of one faith received from the Apostles; common celebration of divine worship, especially of the sacraments; apostolic succession through the sacrament of holy orders” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 815).

These ties are supernaturally constituted to hold the faithful together in Christ and thereby perpetually grant us unity and peace in the family of God.

Think back to the night of the Vigil. Let us recall the Profession of Faith, made by some, but heard by all.

After the renunciation of sin and renewal of baptismal promises, the celebrant addressed those to be received, asking them to “profess the Catholic faith.” The candidates responded with: “I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God” (RCIA 585).

Some of us, when we gave this profession, did not fully realize its significance. In part, it was because we were so overwhelmed with emotion that we barely knew what we were doing. It is easy to miss things in this state, which is unfortunate, for the wording possesses much meaning, the key to the profession being the word “all.”

When you professed your “all,” you confessed a fundamental change in yourself, one which will alter the course of your life: the fact that you have come into the possession of divine and Catholic faith.

When the Church uses the word “faith,” what does it mean?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church has more than one definition, but they amount to the same thing: believing in God and what He has taught us through His Church because we trust Him.

This is the beginning of the supernatural life, lived out in supernatural unity and communion with the rest of your new family.

Of course, a supernatural family does not replace our natural family, but the gifts we share with our new family help us become better members of our natural family, equipping us to love and serve them more perfectly.

The reason why this Easter Vigil was such a big night for the diocese is not because of an increase in numbers, as confirming and encouraging as that is for those of us directing ministry.

What makes this night significant, every year, is the fact that we get to welcome you into the family.

May we all labor together now, giving our all as the united family of God, for His eternal glory. God love you!

Jason Whitehead is the diocesan Director of Evangelization and Catechesis. He entered the Church in 2012 and subsequently received a master’s degree in theology.

Jason Whitehead, column, Profession of Faith, Easter Vigil, trending-english