I met the archbishop a couple of weeks ago. It was sort of a receiving line type thing for those of us converting to Catholicism in the archdiocese, so there wasn't time for chit-chat or to ask him where he got that cool gold sparkly mitre (hat) he wore during his installation ceremony (January, 2004).
The auspicious event during which I met the archbishop was the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. I, along with a thousand of my closest friends, went through this ceremony at the cathedral basilica, which occurs on the first Sunday of Lent (there were so many of us, there were three such ceremonies that weekend in the St. Louis Archdiocese). The meaning of the Rite of Election is to affirm the catechumen's (me) readiness to move into the final preparation period before baptism/confirmation/first communion in the Catholic Church.
Considering where my life has been (that's between me and my priest!) and what path I have taken leading up to this point, the moment at which my name was called so that I could enter the sanctuary (area beyond the communion rail that contains the altar) was a little surreal. As I stepped into the sanctuary, I, along with my sponsor, passed the Book of the Elect; it lay open and I could see the page where I had signed my name the day before in a Rite of Sending at my parish church. That moment instantly impressed upon my memory and at the same time, it reminded me of the book of the Gospel that lay open on top of Pope John Paul II's casket during his funeral last April. I suppose that sounds a little morbid, but it seems to me to be related, because I am moving from my past life into a new life with God, much as the Pope was passing from his earthly life into his next life with God.
The ceremony itself had a lot of pomp and circumstance, as one would expect from the cathedral basilica, but the most impressive thing (aside from the Book of the Elect moment) was how many people were there, doing the same thing as me. As I mentioned above, the cathedral was full, and in addition to this ceremony, there were two others the same weekend.
By the way, the archbishop is taller in person than I thought he was going to be. He commented that I had a nice Irish name, said hello, shook my hand, and that was that. He also had a better handshake than I thought he would have.
The cathedral itself is a stunning piece of artwork. It is the largest collection of mosaics inside a single building in the world. It took three generations to complete all the mosaics and if you get a chance to visit it, I highly recommend taking one of their tours.