It is always a joyful occasion to welcome new members to the family of the Church and this year’s annual service for this purpose on 1st March was no exception, with 57 catechumens and candidates in total. It was particularly warming to see the many different nationalities present with their sponsors for the service.

The welcome was put into words by Archbishop Tartaglia . He had introduced himself to them briefly before the service and now took pleasure in saying to them that “we belong to each other now”. He also welcomed the priests and catechists present with them for this important stage in their journey.

The Archbishop said that each year he marvelled at God’s goodness, at this miracle of grace, and he thanked God with them and prayed for their sanctification and growth in faith. Each in their own way could testify to the way God had called them – through family members or friends or an experience in their lives. They had been supported and also challenged in their journey and now they had arrived at the point where they could say “this is what I must do”.

As in the Gospel, he said, the catechumens and candidates had been looking for the Lord and in response, he had invited them to come to him in his church. The Church in turn with great gladness accepts that choice.

The music of the liturgy was supported by the St Mungo Singers and included pieces with particular resonance for those coming into the Church: Cesareo Gabarain’s Lord, You have Come to the Seashore, Marty Haughen’s We Walk by Faith, and the Prayer of St Richard of Chichester Day by Day.

After the service, everyone proceeded to the Eyre Hall to complete the celebration over tea and cake and chat.