Rite of Election brings candidates and catechumens closer to Catholicism

Catechumen Ryan Hernandez of St. Patrick Parish in Kansas City, Kansas, signs the Book of the Elect as Theresa Smith, director of adult formation at St. Patrick, stands in as his sponsor during the Rite of Election March 10 at Holy Angels in Basehor. Hernandez is one of more than 200 catechumens throughout the archdiocese who will receive the three sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. LEAVEN PHOTO BY KATIE PETERSON

by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven

BASEHOR — Brenda Clayter of Immaculate Conception-St. Joseph Church in Leavenworth has been waiting a very long time.

And her wait is almost over.

Her husband Marvin, who has been attending Mass with her for 40 years, participated in the Rite of Election March 10 at Holy Angels Church in Basehor and will enter into full communion with the Catholic church at the Easter Vigil.

“I just thank God that it is now here,” said Brenda, who is also serving as Marvin’s sponsor.  

It isn’t only Brenda who has looked forward to the Rite of Election with great anticipation. 

“I feel closer to God, closer to the church family,” said Marvin. 

The rite was the second of three in the archdiocese. The first was held the afternoon of March 10 at Christ the King Church in Topeka, and the third was March 14 at Prince of Peace Church in Olathe. 

Marvin said it was personal reasons that have prevented him from becoming fully part of the church before now. And he said there is one thing he is looking forward to most once he joins the church. 

“Being able to take Communion,” he said simply. 

Marvin is one of the more than 300 candidates throughout the archdiocese who will join the church at the Easter Vigil. More than 200 catechumens throughout the archdiocese will join as well. 

Catechumens are those who have never been baptized and will receive all three sacraments of initiation — baptism, confirmation and Eucharist — at the Easter Vigil. Candidates are those who have been baptized in another Christian religion and will make a profession of faith in the Catholic Church and receive their first Communion and confirmation to be in full communion with the church.

Since August, the catechumens and candidates have been receiving a “crash course” in Catholicism, learning about the belief, the Tradition and the teachings of the church. 

“[RCIA] is a journey that begins with inquiry, is developed through prayer and discernment, is strengthened by an ever-increasing faith through the discovery of the teachings of the Gospel by the church’s witness, and matures fully through sacramental reception and the life of Christian identity and grace,” said Michael Podrebarac, consultant for liturgy and sacramental life for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

The Rite of Election brings together the catechumens and candidates throughout the archdiocese who are then presented to the archbishop for election. 

It is the second of three major rites throughout the RCIA process, Podrebarac said.

“The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is the second major rite within the RCIA, which commences with the Rite of Acceptance and Welcome for new catechumens and candidates, celebrated at the parish level,” he said. “The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion stands out because it is celebrated by the local bishop, as pastor of the diocesan church.

“It is he himself who elects the catechumens to become the elect to receive baptism, and who welcomes the baptized candidates for full communion to join us during Lent as they make their way toward their profession of faith and reception into the Catholic Church,” Podrebarac added. 

During the service, following readings from Scripture and a homily by the presiding bishop, the catechumens are presented to the bishop and enroll their names in the Book of Elect, a ceremonial record of the catechumens about to receive the Easter sacraments, which is kept at the archdiocesan offices. After they sign their names, the catechumens are officially elected by the bishop. 

The candidates are then called to stand and affirm their desire to be in full communion with the church. 

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, in his homily, said that spouses, friends, neighbors and co-workers play a major role in motivating the catechumens and candidates to take these steps into joining the church. 

Such was the case for catechumen Karla Marquev, 13, who is a parishioner of Christ the King in Kansas City, Kansas. She said her family is all Catholic and she has wanted to be baptized ever since she was old enough to understand that she hadn’t been baptized as an infant. 

“It is something I’ve asked my dad to do since I realized I wasn’t baptized when I was little. This year, it finally worked out. So, now I’m really excited because it is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Marquev.  

As the catechumens and candidates prepared to take this next step in their journey with RCIA and toward the Easter Vigil, Archbishop Naumann said there was one thing he wanted them to understand. 

“Remember that our Catholic faith is first and foremost not about dogmas and doctrines, though our creed and the catechism are great gifts and important,” Archbishop Naumann said. “Our Catholic faith is not primarily about living a moral and ethical life; again, it is important that we do this and strive to live a virtuous life of faith, but it is not the essence of our Catholicism. It is really the fruit of our faith. 

“Central to what it means to be a Catholic is our personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It is our relationship with Jesus, our friendship with Jesus, that is the core and the foundation of what it means to be Catholic.” 

“So, during this Lenten season, invite Jesus to come into your heart each and every day,” he continued. “Ask Our Lord Jesus to reveal his love for you, his unique and personal love for you. Develop your friendship with Our Lord through frequent, daily prayer; through the prayerful reading of the Scriptures, especially the Gospels; through your participation very soon in the sacramental life of the church.” 

“Surrender your lives and your hearts to Jesus,” the archbishop concluded. “Give everything to Our Lord. 

“Tell Jesus you’re ready to live your life in following him and to discover the abundant life and complete joy that he promises to those disciples who will follow him, even to Calvary.”

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