By Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
As the interior of St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Trenton, became illuminated with the light from the Paschal Candle, one of the youngest members of the parish pointed in awe as the light traveled through the Diocese’s Mother Church during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday Night, April 15.
“If we keep the Memorial of the Lord’s Paschal Solemnity in this way, listening to His word and celebrating his mysteries, then we shall have the sure hope of celebrating His triumph over death and living with Him in God,” Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., said as he blessed the Easter fire and prepared the Paschal candle prior to the procession into the cathedral.
Following the procession, the Exsultet, the Easter Proclamation, was beautifully sung as candles continued to brighten the church.
“The Cross is the ultimate symbol of what the Son of God had accomplished for us,” Father Joel Wilson, a priest of the Diocese who serves as professor in St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Wynnewood, Pa., said in his homily.
“Every Sunday throughout the year is a celebration of the Lord’s victory over suffering and death, a little resurrection, so every Mass is a celebration of spiritual rebirth into new life; the one who conquers sin, darkness and death with his life, that he wants to place into our hearts, welcomes us to come to him-each week,” he said, preaching in both English and Spanish.
He encouraged all to not only come to Mass, but prepare for it by “reading the Sunday Gospel, meditating on the Word of God, the Light of the World. When the Sunday Mass, the Sunday Gospel, become our Easter resolutions, we can benefit more fully from the new life Christ offers us.”
Following the Liturgy of the Word, those to be baptized were invited to come forward with their godparents in the Presentation of the Elect. The Litany of the Saints, Blessing of the Water and the Renunciation of Sin and the Profession of Faith followed.
Bishop O’Connell baptized the men and women who entered the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The congregation then renewed their own Baptismal Promises and were sprinkled with holy water as the church once again became illuminated with light, as the newly baptized passed on the flames from their Baptismal candles to the congregation.
Bishop O’Connell then called forward three women who had been previously baptized into the Christian faith into full communion of the Catholic Church.
Following the Reception into Full Communion, 29 men and women, dressed in red, received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Bishop O’Connell was joined by Father Wilson, Msgr. Joseph Roldán, Cathedral rector, Msgr. Thomas Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy and consecrated life and director of seminarians, and Father Michael W. Wallack, Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Bishop and Episcopal Master of Ceremonies, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Bishop O’Connell distributed the Body and Blood of Christ to those receiving the Sacrament of Eucharist for the first time.
Prior to the Final Blessing, Bishop O’Connell thanked his brother priests and deacons and all of those who made the Easter Vigil, the official commemoration of Christ’s Resurrection, such a meaningful and beautiful celebration.
“Please join me in welcoming to the Roman Catholic Church our newest members,” Bishop O’Connell said, as the Cathedral erupted in applause.
The joy was not only felt by the congregation, but by the newest members of the faith as well. “I feel amazing; very exhilarated,” said Marissa Costanzo, who studies in Georgian Court University, Lakewood, and participated in the RCIA process there. “I feel I can see clearer, like everything has been washed away.”
She and her fiancé are members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Farmingdale.
Fellow RCIA member and GCU student Amy Bonavolonta, who hails from Waretown and will worship in St. Rose Parish, Belmar, traveled this spiritual journey with her daughter Madeline, 9.
“This was really special for me, that we were allowed to do this together,” she said. “I am beyond grateful.”
Sister Helen, who has worked to prepare her students at GCU was proud to witness her students receiving their Sacraments.
“It has been a wonderful and beautiful experience,” she said. “We had a great group.”
“Welcome to the Church, brother,” Father Wallack said with happiness, as he shook hands with one of the newest members of the Church following the Easter Vigil Mass.
Alan Lopez, an eighth grade student in Trenton Catholic Academy, Hamilton, and Cathedral parishioner, was pleased to finally become a member of the Church.
“I feel so much better, I feel relieved,” he said and added, “I’ve been waiting for this a whole year.”
Fellow parishioner Kiana Quizhpi, 14, shared that she felt “happy and closer to God when I receive him in Communion,” she said upon receiving the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.
In between pictures, Luis Garcia, 23, took a moment to reflect on what it meant to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
“I am honestly very happy and very excited. This year has been filled with the Holy Spirit and many blessings. I’ve learned a lot more about my faith and I’d like to keep on learning.”
For more information on becoming a fully initiated member of the Catholic faith, please visit http://www.dioceseoftrenton.org/rcia-home