More Than 200 to Enter the Church at Easter

Martina Hart Photo
A candidate places his baptismal certificate in the Baptismal Ceremonial Book at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston.

By Martina Hart
The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion gathered more than 200 catechumens and candidates at the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston March 3, St. James the Greater Parish in Charles Town March 9, and the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling March 10.
They will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church at their home parishes at Easter.
Beth Sibenaller of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in White Sulphur Springs is a candidate with a nondenominational protestant background. She is becoming Catholic because her husband Gregory Sibenaller is Catholic, and for her own reasons too, she said.
“We have been together almost five years, and it just seemed like the right faith journey to do, and the priest at our parish was very good at pushing me to join,” she said. “But it’s been a really good experience and it was like a great match of people in our group to work with and just meant to be at the right time.” She attended the ceremony at the basilica co-cathedral.
Aja Saldana, a senior in high school, is a catechumen from St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Ronceverte. “I started reading a lot of philosophy when I entered high school and I started getting really serious about my studies. And I came upon the works of St. Thomas Aquinas and I started reading parts of Summa Theologica as well as the works of a Danish philosopher called Søren Kierkegaard, and I really got convinced. … my dad was already a part of the Catholic Church. So, it’s kind of a family thing as well,” said Saldana, who attended the ceremony at the basilica co-cathedral.
The day was a long time coming for candidate Mindy Zampino, who attended the ceremony at St. James. “A journey that was really hard at times, mainly because of my own stubbornness,” she said. “That paired with real hurts, made it harder for me to come full circle to this decision. However, from that long and difficult road, I now have a very clear and firm foundation of what I believe and how I came to this decision.
“Today means that I am confident in my calling as a Catholic,” she said. “Today means that I have finally found a church home. And most of all, today means that there is no turning back. I know my future with my faith. I know I am not perfect in my faith, but I welcome the never-ending journey to becoming ever-closer with my loving Savior, Jesus Christ.”
(Contributing to this story was John Sherwood in Charles Town.)