Bishop to preside over Feb. 18 Rite of Election
From staff reports
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. 18 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., presiding.
The Rite of Election, a joy-filled 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 March 31.
The Rite of Election stems from the Christian practice for those preparing to be initiated into the Church, the catechumens, 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 on March 31. 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.
Steve Bulvanoski, diocesan RCIA coordinator, reflected on the various movements of the Rite of Election, describing it as an “extremely powerful liturgy,” to witness and experience, especially by the catechumens.
“These are our new Christians in training,” he said. “They have been involved with the RCIA in their parishes and have entered this thorough process of conversion. They are gradually choosing to grow in their relationship with Jesus and to become part of the Catholic community.”
“At the Rite of Election, the catechumens experience the developing relationship between them and Jesus and with us, the people of God in a particularly powerful way,” Bulvanoski said.
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 the Sunday before or the First Sunday of Lent.
St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral is located at 61 Georgia Road, Freehold.