Hundreds of catechumens and candidates seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church will gather Feb. 17, the first Sunday of Lent, for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.
Archbishop John Nienstedt will preside at the ceremony at the cathedral at 2 p.m. Bishop Lee Piché will lead the basilica ceremony at 1:30 p.m.
The rite marks the beginning of the final preparation of catechumens (those not baptized) for the sacraments of initiation, typically celebrated at the Easter Vigil. From the time of the Rite of Election until the time of their initiation, the catechumens are referred to as “members of the elect.”
During the Call to Continuing Conversion, individuals who already are baptized and who are preparing for entrance into the Catholic Church are recognized.
As of Feb. 12, 214 catechumens and 473 candidates were preparing for initiation, said Father John Paul Erickson, director of the archdiocesan Office of Worship.
During the ceremony, catechumens who have signed the Book of the Elect at their parish come forward to be greeted by the archbishop or bishop, who receives the parish’s book. Candidates are asked to stand and be recognized.
“It’s a marvelous celebration of the Holy Spirit active and alive in our Church,” Father Erickson said.
Call to conversion
The entire local Church is invited to attend the Rite of Election. While catechumens and candidates are seeking initiation into the church, in a larger sense the call to continuing conversion extends to all the faithful.
“We are all called during Lent to meditate upon our baptismal promises and to renew them and to continue to go deeper in terms of conversion,” Father Erickson said. “It’s a chance for us all to be encouraged and affirmed and challenged.”
The rite is also a reminder that the catechumens and candidates are not only becoming members of their local parish, but of the wider Church as well. As such, they need the prayer and support of their fellow Catholics, he said.
“When they are elected by the local bishop, that bishop is not only speaking for this local Church, he is in a very real sense speaking for the universal Church — a universal Church that not only exists on every continent of the world, but also stretches back centuries,” Father Erickson said. “These are individuals that are now growing in communion with a history. They’re being granted a heritage and a future.”
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