The Rite of Election, an ancient ceremony of public acceptance for those women and men journeying toward full initiation in the Catholic Church, will be celebrated at 3 p.m. Feb. 26, in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, 61 Georgia Rd., Freehold, with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., presiding.

The Rite of Election, a rite celebrated before sponsors, family, godparents, and the broader community of believers, is held on the First Sunday of Lent. It marks an important milestone for those adults, known as catechumens, who wish to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil, which this year is April 8. This year, there are 102 catechumens in the Diocese of Trenton.

The Rite of Election is traced to the Christian practice for those preparing to be initiated into the Church to declare their intention at the start of the Lenten season. The “Election” refers to the covenant by God with his chosen people of Israel. The rite is the beginning of the final phase of preparation for those participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the process through which adults enter the Catholic Church.

During the ceremony, Bishop O’Connell will formally acknowledge the readiness of the catechumens and call them to the reception of the Sacraments, to be conferred in most cases in their own parishes during the Easter Vigil.

In turn, the Church affirms that the catechumens are prepared and worthy to be admitted into the faith. Their sponsors also testify to their worthiness and eligibility for admission by the Bishop. Once accepted by the Bishop, the catechumens are publicly declared as “the elect.”

The rite also includes the official enrollment of the names of those requesting Baptism at the Easter Vigil into the Book of the Elect. The signing of the Book, which occurs during the Rite of Sending, takes place in a separate parish ceremony prior to the Rite of Election.

Others who will be taking a significant step in the life of the Diocese are those who have been baptized as Catholics or in other Christian faiths but have not yet celebrated the additional Sacraments of Initiation – Confirmation and Eucharist.

These individuals, referred to as candidates for full communion in the Church, will make a profession of faith, be received into the Church and complete their Sacraments during the Call to Continuing Conversion, a ceremony that may be celebrated in the RCIA candidates’ home parishes on a Sunday during the early part of Lent.

This year in the Diocese, the total number of candidates is 257 with 228 who were baptized Catholic and 29 who were baptized in another Christian faith tradition.