Catholic Free Press

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  • Feb
  • 21

God’s chosen people

Posted By February 21, 2013 | 12:58 pm | Lead Story #2
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By Tanya Connor

Meeting Jesus.
That’s what Romeo Daniel Menou, of St. George Parish in Worcester, focused on as he spoke about his journey.
The 22-year-old who immigrated from Cameroon a year ago is one of 122 people preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil in parishes around the diocese. They are also to receive the other sacraments of initiation: first Eucharist and confirmation.
These catechumens and their godparents, and 144 candidates and their sponsors, were called to attend a special liturgy at St. Paul Cathedral Sunday.
Among candidates were a 72-year-old son of a Lutheran pastor and an 87-year-old Episcopalian.
The liturgy, held annually on the first Sunday of Lent, is called the “Celebration of the Rite of Election of Catechumens and of the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates who seek to Complete their Christian Initiation.”
At this liturgy, catechumens were called by name, by parish. They inscribed their names in the Book of the Elect and greeted Bishop McManus, who then declared them members of the elect.
Also called by name, by parish, were the candidates (45 people baptized in non-Catholic Christian communities who are preparing to become Catholics, and 99 baptized Catholics, all of whom are preparing to receive their first Communion and/or confirmation. Bishop McManus said the Act of Recognition over them and they greeted him.
“Today I saw so many faces, so many ages, so many nationalities, so I think everyone can meet Jesus,” Mr. Menou told The Catholic Free Press afterwards.
“I think for me it’s a great thing to meet Jesus, to be with Jesus, because Jesus do a lot of things in my life for my family,” said the young man who is learning English as a student at Quinsigamond Community College. “I pray Jesus to be with me all my life and with my family and I thanks God to bring me to this country.”
He said his parents, who were Catholic in Cameroon, and his siblings, immigrated to the United States more than 10 years ago, first to Maryland, then Worcester, but he lived with extended family back home.
“I pray all the people who never meet Jesus to try to be with Jesus because Jesus is the light of the life,” he said. “I think it’s good to be with Jesus all the time. The first time I meet Jesus, I live with my uncle. His wife brought me to church. It was a Protestant church.”
Mr. Menou said he went two or three times, gave up, then had many problems in his life.
“You need to come to church because Jesus is the light,” someone from the church told him.
“I say OK,” Mr. Menou recalled. “It was difficult to think that Jesus could do something great for you. But every Sunday I go to Church, I learn something new. And I say my life is in the Bible, because I read the book of Daniel. I learn so many things in the book of Daniel. My middle name is Daniel.” He said he kept going to church there until he came here and found his family involved at St. George’s.
St. George’s pastor, Father Ronald G. Falco, said Mr. Menou’s family members became active in the parish a few years ago.
“We’re very thankful,” he said. “They have profound faith. They come to pray at the eucharistic chapel.” Mr. Menou’s brother Stephen Ngamo, 6, is to receive his first Communion soon, his brother Jefferson Ngamo, 11, is an altar server, and his sister, Gladys Ngamo, 18, was confirmed a few years ago. Father Falco expressed delight that Mr. Menou came to the parish.
“It’s terrific faith,” he said of what Mr. Menou has. “It just moves my faith” to hear him talk about Jesus. “God has really blessed him with insight into God’s love – a real grace from God about forgiveness, about God giving him strength. … It’s very real, this grace in his life.”
He said that at the Rite of Sending in the parish that morning, which sent catechumens forth to the Rite of Election, he asked Mr. Menou, ‘Do you want to be baptised?’”
His response? A resounding “Yes!”
Asked how he felt after the Rite of Election, Mr. Menou replied, “I feel more confident to follow Jesus.”
Why?
Mr. Menou answered with a point Bishop McManus had just made in the homily – “Jesus say, ‘It’s me who chose you.’” He added, “I think Jesus chose me today.”
“What do you think God is calling you to do with your life?” Bishop McManus had asked the congregation, after talking about Adam and Eve rejecting God’s plan and Jesus repairing that rift by obeying his Father.
The bishop noted that Americans are used to electing leaders, but in the church it is the opposite.
“You are not choosing or electing God,” he said. “No, it is God, in Christ, who is electing you.”
In this Year of Faith, in this time of new evangelization, when the Church is called to live the faith publicly, God is giving them this message, the bishop said.
“The Lord’s invitation is this: ‘Repent, change your life, believe in the Gospel so you might have more abundant life.’”
He spoke of the solemn moment when they will be baptized and God will choose them. They will be confirmed and receive the Holy Spirit. In receiving the Eucharist for the first time, “You will receive the very body and blood of Christ,” he said.
“Sometimes the invitation is not accepted,” Bishop McManus noted, and asked listeners, “What do you hope to receive in accepting this invitation? … Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, because he, and he alone, is the way, the truth and the life.” He told them God loves them and wants them to attain the goal – life with him forever.
“I welcome you and I pledge to you a daily remembrance in my prayers,” he said.