by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — These weeks of Lent are an important time in the life of the church. But they are particularly special to the hundreds of people preparing to enter the church at Easter.
With celebrations of the Rite of Election on Feb. 26 and March 4, they have reached two of three major milestones along their path to Catholicism, explained Michael Podrebarac, archdiocesan consultant for liturgy.
RCIA classes started in the fall for both catechumens — people preparing to be baptized and enter the church— and candidates — those who have been baptized in a Christian religion and are now seeking full communion with the Catholic Church.
This year, there are a total of 154 catechumens and 287 candidates for full communion in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.
The first milestone for both groups came at the start of Advent, when they were welcomed into either the order of catechumens or of candidates.
The Rite of Election, which took place at three different churches in different regions of the archdiocese, was the second significant step. On Feb. 26, catechumens signed their names in the Book of the Elect in the presence of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann — some at the 3 p.m. liturgy at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and others at the 7 p.m. rite at Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee.
Those in the Topeka area celebrated the Rite of Election on March 4 at Christ the King Parish in Topeka.
The signatures are kept with the archdiocese as a record of those seeking baptism during the year.
Candidates also attend the Rite of the Elect celebrations to declare their intentions to be in full communion with the church.
“It’s a major step in the process to becoming Catholic,” said Podrebarac, adding that it gives individuals entering the church the chance to see themselves in a context that is much larger than their local parishes.
The third major milestone in this journey is just a few weeks away —the Easter Vigil.
It is there that both catechumens and candidates will receive the sacraments of initiation and officially become Catholics.