A godparent places his hand on the shoulder of the catechumen he is sponsoring during the 2020 Rite of Election in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Because of pandemic restrictions, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., has delegated that the 2021 Rite of Election be held at the parish level. Craig Pittelli photo
A godparent places his hand on the shoulder of the catechumen he is sponsoring during the 2020 Rite of Election in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. Because of pandemic restrictions, Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., has delegated that the 2021 Rite of Election be held at the parish level. Craig Pittelli photo
This year’s Rite of Election on the First Sunday of Lent, Feb. 21, will be different than in past years. But the Rite will continue to remain a significant major milestone for those who participate.

Because of the restrictions surrounding the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Rite of Election will not bring the catechumens – those women and men who are preparing to become Catholic at the coming Easter Vigil – together with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., for a diocesan celebration.

Instead, Bishop O’Connell has delegated that the Rite of Election be celebrated at the parish level and presided over by the pastors.

The Rite of Election is a liturgical rite that is essential in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the Church’s process for preparing unbaptized persons who are seeking to become in full communion with the Church through educational and spiritual formation. At the Rite of Election, the catechumens declare their intentions to become fully initiated Catholic Christians when they receive the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist – at the Easter Vigil, which this year falls on April 3.

During the Rite of Election, the Bishop formally acknowledges the readiness of the catechumens and calls them to the reception of the Sacraments. Once accepted by the Bishop, the catechumens are publicly declared as “the elect.”