Nearly 600 catechumens — those discerning full communion in the Catholic Church — were received during this year’s Rite of Election celebrated March 5 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.
The rite continues a nine-month process that began last summer for individuals wishing to become Catholic and baptized Catholics in need of Confirmation. The process culminates with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Vigil Mass.
“They could go all the way through the process and say, ‘I’m not ready,’ and that would be fine. It’s their decision,” noted Dcn. Lou Cornille of St. Patrick Parish of Scottsdale, which this year has 31 individuals taking part, including eight who are on schedule to become new Catholics.
“This is a huge deal. The Lord is tapping these people on the shoulder. They want to partake in the Catholic liturgy, the Eucharist, Baptism and Confirmation,” Dcn. Cornille explained.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted referenced that theme in his homily, noting that the journey of faith begins with a call from God.
“Jesus says, ‘It wasn’t you who chose me, it was I who chose you. Sometimes, we think, ‘Isn’t it great I chose to be a catechumen?’ Well, first He chose you.
“Today, the Church confirms that each of you who are catechumens have indeed heard and responded to Him calling you,” he added. “It was He who called. It wasn’t just your imagination.”
The bishop also thanked the pastors and sponsors who are shepherding each catechumen through the process, prior to formal presentations of the Book of the Elect from each of the 49 participating parishes. The books contain the names of each catechumen. Preparation covers Church history, the sacraments, learning to read Scripture, prayer and personal testimonies.
Albert Lomeli of St. Jerome Parish said his own experience as a catechumen led him to become a sponsor. He tearfully recalled the catalyst that led him to begin the process: his daughter asked him why he didn’t receive the Eucharist at her first Communion and he told her because he wasn’t Catholic.
“It helped me out so much and I felt this joy it gave me, I just wanted to bring that joy and spread that love to everyone else,” he said.
The only way we will get new RCIA inquirers is by inviting new people into the church. https://t.co/MgsxatlxNG
— Nick Wagner (@TeamRCIA) March 6, 2017
For Leonce Gateranya and Edward Joseph, both of St. James Parish in Glendale, the rite had even more meaning.
Gateranya and Joseph came to the United States nearly a decade ago to escape the strife and turmoil of civil war in their native Burundi, in central East Africa, where Joseph said violence made church attendance difficult.
“For many years, we didn’t have this chance to sit down and go to church,” said Joseph, noting how moving it is to join the Church here. “There’s a power behind it.”
Rite of Election around the world
Rite of Election Celebrated for Four Adults Affiliated with U.S. Military https://t.co/t3f2pqBL2a
— Military Archdiocese (@MilArchUSA) March 7, 2017
Nearly 400 candidates and catechumens took a final step toward becoming Catholics at yesterday's Rite of Election! pic.twitter.com/IkJ7vel2ww
— Bridgeport Diocese (@Diobpt) March 6, 2017
— The Tablet (@TabletNewspaper) March 8, 2017
Westminster: 560 adults welcomed at Rite of Election https://t.co/lPAMNpVByX
— IndCatholicNews (@indcatholicnews) March 8, 2017
— Saskatoon RC Diocese (@saskatooncath) March 7, 2017
— The Monitor (@TrentonMonitor) March 6, 2017
(from the UK)
Rite of Election this weekend was encouraging – Cathedral packed! See this week's Enews. Please pray for those to be baptised/received.
— Bishop Philip Egan (@BishopEgan) March 7, 2017