Diocese prepares to welcome more than 750 to receive the grace from the Church's Sacraments

February 13, 2024 at 5:41 p.m.


In special rites and solemn celebrations over the coming weeks, more than 750 individuals from parishes throughout the Diocese of Trenton will reach milestones in their faith journeys as they continue to grow in their personal relationship to Jesus Christ.  

In a period of formation that has stretched over the last year or more, these women, men and teens have dedicated themselves to be spiritually prepared and to learn all they can about the Catholic Church through their participation in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA is a parish-based process through which participants grow in their knowledge and understanding of the faith and become part of their parish community.

Of the 750, the diocesan Department of Catechesis reports that 249 are catechumens. They are persons who have never been baptized and seek membership in the Church through the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation -- Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist -- at the Easter Vigil, which this year is March 30.

The catechumens will take a major step in their journey Feb. 18 when they, along with their godparents, sponsors, family members and catechists, attend the 3 p.m. Rite of Election ceremony with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.  

As described in the Code of Canon Law, the Rite of Election is traditionally held on the First Sunday of Lent and is the time when the Church affirms that the catechumens are prepared and worthy to continue their journey toward reception of the Sacraments at the Vigil. During the rite, their sponsors testify to their catechumen’s eligibility for admission by the Bishop. Once they are accepted by the Bishop, the catechumens are publicly known as “the elect.”

The Rite of Election also includes the official enrollment into the Book of the Elect of the names of those requesting the Sacraments of Initiation. This step begins with the catechumens’ signing their names into the Book during the Rite of Sending, which is a separate parish ceremony held prior to the Rite of Election. The individual parish books are then carried to the Rite of Election where they are held by designated RCIA team members. As the names of catechumens from a particular parish are called, the catechumens stand as does the team member who is the book bearer.

Others who have taken part in the RCIA to prepare for gaining full membership in the Catholic Church are known as candidates.  These are individuals who have been baptized as Catholics or in other Christian faith traditions.  At the Easter Vigil, or at another appropriate time, the candidates, who have been baptized in another Christian faith, will make a profession of faith, and all of the candidates will be received into the Church and complete their Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and the Eucharist). The diocesan Department of Catechesis reports that there are 519 candidates this year, 104 of whom are baptized non-Catholic and 415 of whom have been baptized Catholics.

These candidates may take part in the Call to Continuing Conversion, which is an optional rite that may be celebrated in the parishes on a Sunday during the early part of Lent.


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In special rites and solemn celebrations over the coming weeks, more than 750 individuals from parishes throughout the Diocese of Trenton will reach milestones in their faith journeys as they continue to grow in their personal relationship to Jesus Christ.  

In a period of formation that has stretched over the last year or more, these women, men and teens have dedicated themselves to be spiritually prepared and to learn all they can about the Catholic Church through their participation in Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA is a parish-based process through which participants grow in their knowledge and understanding of the faith and become part of their parish community.

Of the 750, the diocesan Department of Catechesis reports that 249 are catechumens. They are persons who have never been baptized and seek membership in the Church through the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation -- Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist -- at the Easter Vigil, which this year is March 30.

The catechumens will take a major step in their journey Feb. 18 when they, along with their godparents, sponsors, family members and catechists, attend the 3 p.m. Rite of Election ceremony with Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold.  

As described in the Code of Canon Law, the Rite of Election is traditionally held on the First Sunday of Lent and is the time when the Church affirms that the catechumens are prepared and worthy to continue their journey toward reception of the Sacraments at the Vigil. During the rite, their sponsors testify to their catechumen’s eligibility for admission by the Bishop. Once they are accepted by the Bishop, the catechumens are publicly known as “the elect.”

The Rite of Election also includes the official enrollment into the Book of the Elect of the names of those requesting the Sacraments of Initiation. This step begins with the catechumens’ signing their names into the Book during the Rite of Sending, which is a separate parish ceremony held prior to the Rite of Election. The individual parish books are then carried to the Rite of Election where they are held by designated RCIA team members. As the names of catechumens from a particular parish are called, the catechumens stand as does the team member who is the book bearer.

Others who have taken part in the RCIA to prepare for gaining full membership in the Catholic Church are known as candidates.  These are individuals who have been baptized as Catholics or in other Christian faith traditions.  At the Easter Vigil, or at another appropriate time, the candidates, who have been baptized in another Christian faith, will make a profession of faith, and all of the candidates will be received into the Church and complete their Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and the Eucharist). The diocesan Department of Catechesis reports that there are 519 candidates this year, 104 of whom are baptized non-Catholic and 415 of whom have been baptized Catholics.

These candidates may take part in the Call to Continuing Conversion, which is an optional rite that may be celebrated in the parishes on a Sunday during the early part of Lent.

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