by Kara Hansen
TOPEKA — For hundreds of people who have been attending RCIA classes around the archdiocese, the Rite of Election marked the home stretch of their journey into the Catholic faith.
“We’ve been in it for the long haul,” said Trevor Potts. He and his wife, Nichole, have been attending RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes at St. Matthew Parish in Topeka since early fall. “We’ve learned so much about the Catholic religion and church in general, and formed a lot of friendships as well.”
Father Jerry Volz, pastor of St. Matthew, said getting to the Rite of Election was a gradual process for most participants.
“RCIA is first about inquiring into the Catholic Church and bringing together people with their different perspectives. The church then helps them understand who God is and how he relates to people — first as individuals and then as a community — which is really important for us as Catholics,” said Father Volz, whose parish has four catechumens and eight candidates preparing for entry into the church this year.
Being a part of that community, he said, involves participation.
“We invite them to be a part of the parish by inviting members of different organizations and committees to share with the RCIA class so they know about all the different opportunities and ways they can be part of the church,” said Father Volz.
But the Rite of Election is definitely a high point of the process.
“The Rite of Election really broadens their understanding of the church, especially of the universal church,” he said. “The archbishop is present to encourage them to go on and [to] give them his approval in the final part of their journey.”
The Potts were among those who participated in the third Rite of Election ceremony this year, held at Most Pure Heart of Mary in Topeka on Feb. 17. The first two were held at St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kan., and Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe on Feb. 10.
As part of the rite, catechumens are presented to Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann along with their godparents. Separately, candidates are presented with their sponsors. The event serves as the formal announcement of who will be entering the church at the Easter Vigil.
Some 178 catechumens, who are seeking baptism along with entry into the church, signed the Book of the Elect this year. Hundreds more candidates — those previously baptized, but not as Catholics, who are seeking full communion with the church — participated as well.
At the Easter Vigil, these catechumens and candidates will become full members of the Catholic Church. After Easter, they will begin a new journey — this time as Catholics.