Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
10 Mar 2017
287 catechumens preparing for Baptism, first Eucharist and Confirmation, and 42 candidates preparing for their first Eucharist and Confirmation, hailing from 33 parishes and 6 community groups across the Archdiocese of Sydney, were welcomed to St Mary's Cathedral on Sunday by Bishop Tony Randazzo at this year's Rite of Election.
They were joined by hundreds of their family and friends, including their godparents, as well as representatives from their parishes and those who have been assisting with their preparation for the sacraments through the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. There was also a strong presence from the Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese and Chinese Catholic communities, the Western Sydney Catholic Chinese Community, the Vietnamese Catholic Community, the Chinese Catholic Pastoral Centre, the Catholic Indonesian Community and the Chinese Catholic Community Eastwood also attended.
Christina Hodal from the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catechumenate Office said that for many of the catechumens, the candidates and their families, this was their first time in the Cathedral and they were amazed by its beauty and the prayerful liturgy, as well as the support from the community. "The large numbers present were a real witness to the prayerful support of the entire Archdiocese of Sydney," Ms Hodal said.
Traditionally held each year on the First Sunday of Lent, the Rite of Election is one of the final phases for catechumens in their formation and conversion to the Catholic faith. This is when the Church accepts the petition of the Catechumens together with the testimony of the Catholic community and enrols them as the "elect."
The name of each Catechumen is inscribed in the Book of the Elect, which is held by each of Sydney's parishes and Catholic communities. After the Rite of Election, and the acceptance into the Church as Catechumens-elect, the group will spend the remaining days of Lent - the culmination of their preparations to enter into the Church - in prayer and reflection. This time is known as the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, and includes a number of community celebrations (known as the Scrutinies) held in their local parishes. Coinciding with the third, fourth and fifth Sundays in Lent, the Catechumen-elect, together with their local priest and parish, focus on their lives in light of the Gospel and ask God for healing and forgiveness.
Their journey to become members of the Catholic Church will peak as they receive the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Saturday Vigil Mass. At this time, the next journey - the adventure of living as a Catholic - will begin.
To find out more about embracing the Catholic faith or converting from another Christian denomination, contact the Archdiocese of Sydney's Catechumenate Office by phoning 02 9307 8499 or go to www.rcia.org.au