Last Sunday (February 26, 2012), our diocese celebrated the Rite of Election of Catechumens and the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates Who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral at 2:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Both of these services nearly filled the Cathedral with catechumens and their Godparents, candidates and their Sponsors, family members and friends, and representatives from the parishes from which the catechumens and candidates came from.
The Rite of Election was celebrated in dioceses throughout the world, as is done each year on the First Sunday of Lent.
Catechumens are those individuals who have indicated an interest in joining the Catholic Church. They have never been baptized and they have been deeply involved in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults offered by their parishes for many months. The RCIA is mandated by the Church when a non-baptized person is desirous of being a Catholic.
The persons who have been accepted into the Order of Catechumens continue their preparation and formation in concert with other people in the same situation, i.e. non-baptized persons desirous of becoming Catholic, and with Catholic parishioners including the pastor and staff personnel. The Rite of Election is the official Church's "election" and "enrollment of names" by the bishop in the service that was celebrated last Sunday whereby these people now
are called the "elect" indicating they are ready to be fully initiated at the next Easter Vigil, which will be 7 April 2012. This event of Rite of Election, thus, is an important step forward especially given the bishop's acceptance of the catechumens. Since this harkens back to the practice of the early Church, the involvement of the bishop in the RCIA is stated clearly: "Admission to election therefore belongs to the bishop. . .the presiding celebrant for the rite of election is the bishop himself or a priest or a deacon who acts as the bishop's delegate."
Candidates are individuals who are baptized Catholics and are uncatechized, i.e. have not received their First Communion or who are baptized Christians who are desirous of being received into Full Communion of the Catholic Church. Many of the candidates have been involved in the RCIA of a parish since often times their situations and/or their needs are not very different from those who will become catechumens, except of course for the Sacrament of Baptism which is of singular significance.
Candidates already share with Catholics the reality of being baptized