Nine candidates and catechumens enter the Church during the Easter vigil at cathedral, among 800 new Catholics in Metro Detroit
DETROIT — Candidates, catechumens and their supporters gathered April 9 in the dark in the plaza outside the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. The faithful waited in silence as Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron lit the Easter candle, signaling that darkness has been brought to light, thanks to the promised resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Across the Archdiocese of Detroit, 800 candidates and catechumens entered the church during this year's Easter vigil. Of those 800, nine candidates and catechumens from the cathedral, St. Moses the Black and St. Aloysius parishes received their first sacraments from the archbishop himself at the mother church of the archdiocese.
Among the nine was candidate Anthony Nellon. After taking a good 10 years to study and try to fully understand the faith, Nellon told Detroit Catholic he was finally ready to become Catholic.
“I took my time with it,” Nellon said. “I was inspired around 2013 by Pope Francis because he gave (attention) to a lot of charities, and he made a lot of changes.”
Along with Pope Francis, Nellon said he was deeply inspired by the life of St. Maurice of Thebes, whom he chose to be his confirmation saint. Nellon said he will never forget the moment when the archbishop asked him, “What is your name?” and called him Maurice.
“I am sure I can stay humble and happy with this because just knowing the faith and knowing what I can do with it in my life inspired me to make a change,” Nellon said.
Welcoming the newly baptized and confirmed, Archbishop Vigneron noted that Easter is a celebration of the good news: the tomb is empty, and Jesus, who was crucified, has been raised from the dead just as he promised.
Jesus’s rising is glorious and immortal, Archbishop Vigneron told the faithful in his homily. He is risen, never to die again, an act with a meaning of cosmic proportions.
“The resurrection of Jesus means that the Father did not betray him,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Jesus died with these words on his breath: ‘Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.’ And he was not disappointed, was he? That spirit of Jesus was saved in the Father’s hands and given back to him sometime early Easter morning before the dawn.”
Jesus’s rising from the dead “dispelled wickedness, washed faults away, restored innocence to the fallen and joy to mourners, drove out hatred, fostered, conquered and brought down the mighty,” Archbishop Vigneron added.
The archbishop pointed out that the multiple readings that are shared during the Easter Vigil — beginning with the account of the first creation in Genesis and concluding with Christ's death and resurrection — are meant to help the faithful understand this meaning.
“On this day, the eighth day (of Christ's resurrection), He started again to work, and He created a new creation, a better creation,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “He created anew the human race in the flesh of his son, Jesus Christ. And He’s begun the world’s history again — not by deleting what had happened, but by taking even death itself and transforming it into a pathway to life.”
This renewal, the return of Christ, is truly good news, he added.
“In fact, it is the very best of news for you and for me. First of all, it means that we have Jesus back. We, who are his disciples, might have seemed to have lost him, but we have joy in receiving him back again, alive, never to be taken away from us,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “And in the restoration of Jesus our beloved, we have the promise that everyone whom we seem to have lost by death is not really lost to us … but like Christ and in Christ is given back to us by the power of this holy night.”
This good news means Jesus gives us a share in his victory, and it allows us to better understand the power of the sacraments, the archbishop said.
"It is from the very heart of Jesus that we receive the sacrificial offering, the blood more precious than that which was to be offered by Abraham, as we heard in the second reading,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “This night means that by membership in the Church, we have eternal life because by membership in the Church, we become part of the body of Christ, and we, his members, share the life of him.”
Because of this, the Easter vigil is the night most appropriate for catechumens to be baptized and confirmed and for all the faithful to participate in the celebration of the Eucharistic banquet and to do so with courage, he said.
“Christ is invincible; even hell could not hold him,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “And so nothing in this world can bind him up or impede his victory.”