Rite of Election — Affirming the intent to join the Catholic Church
“At the beginning of Lent, which is the time of the proximate preparation for the sacraments of initiation, the election or enrollment of names is celebrated. In this rite, the church hears the testimony of the godparents and catechists. After the catechumens reaffirm their intention, the church passes judgment on their state of preparation and states whether they may go on to the Easter sacraments.” (The Rite of Election, 1978, ICEL)
When an adult chooses to join the Catholic Church, they begin a program can the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Those participating in RCIA spend time in prayer, discernment, and reflection while being introduced to all aspects of Catholic teaching, beliefs, and practices. According to Father Leo Hausmann, vicar general for the diocese, there are formal rites and stages to the RCIA process – the pre-catechumenate, followed by the catechumenate. The Rite of Election marks the final phase of preparation to receive the sacraments of initiation (baptism, first communion, and confirmation) usually at the Easter Vigil.
“The Rite of Election is important to mark the beginning of a new phase called the Period of Purification and Enlightenment and the catechumens are now called ‘the elect’ or ‘the illuminandi,” he explained. “The Rite of Election closes the period of the catechumenate.”
On March 6, at 2 p.m., Bishop Peter Muhich, will celebrate the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help with catechumens present from many parishes throughout the diocese symbolizing the unity Catholics have to their bishop and the Universal Church.
“Participating in the Rite of Election at the Cathedral was so powerful to me,” said Amy Julian, who became a full member of the Catholic in 2001. “Seeing all those people from all those parishes, who were making the choice to come into the Catholic Church, it dawned on me that I was a part of something that was so much bigger than I had realized.”
Following the homily, a delegate from each parish responsible for the initiation of the catechumens presents the elect to the bishop and those in attendance. The catechumens inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect at the cathedral, affirming their intention to join the church. The church, then in turn, “elects” these catechumens to receive the sacraments of initiation.
The Rite of Election will also include the Call to Continuing Conversion for persons who are called candidates in the RCIA process. Candidates are those who have been baptized in other Christian traditions and now seek to become members of the Catholic Church. Candidates may also include baptized Catholics who had no instruction in the faith and are now preparing for Eucharist and confirmation.
“It is important for us to support the catechumens and candidates by praying for them as individuals and as their local parish,” said Father Hausmann. “A card or word of encouragement is also appreciated by these catechumens and candidates since this is an involved process at which they have been working hard. Share with them your joy that they will be joining the parish family and share with them your personal story of why the Catholic Church is important in your life.”
The Mass will be live streamed to the diocesan website and the diocesan Facebook page (facebook.com/DioceseofRapidCity).
Music Reprinted and Streamed with Permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A-704305. All rights reserved. Excerpts from the English translation of Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation, (ICEL); Excerpts from the English translation of The Roman Missal © 2010, ICEL; Excerpts from the English Translation of The Roman Pontifical © 1978, ICEL. All rights reserved.