On the First Sunday of Lent, a special liturgy takes place at the cathedral church in every Diocese. The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is one part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a gradual process of conversion and initiation into the Catholic Church for those adults seeking baptism or for those already baptized who seek full communion in the Catholic Church.

Those preparing for baptism are called catechumens while those already baptized in another Christian denomination seeking full communion with the Catholic Church

are called candidates.

An important part of the RCIA are the liturgical rites that are celebrated publicly with the parish community.

Through the celebration of these rites, the entire parish becomes part of the RCIA process, supporting catechumens and candidates with prayers and words of support, while the catechumens and candidates are slowly integrated into

the community throughout the process – even before the celebration of baptism and confirmation. Being initiated into the universal Catholic Church, however, means more than just joining a single parish. The RCIA process reflects this, most especially through the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, where the bishop has an opportunity to meet the catechumens and candidates and support them in their journey to the Catholic faith.

In the celebration, the godparents of the catechumens testify to the efforts the catechumens have taken to prepare themselves for baptism. The godparents – and the entire assembly – pledge their prayers and support for the catechumens.

The bishop then elects the catechumens to receive the sacraments of initiation at Easter; It is an acknowledgement that God has called the catechumen to faith. Seeing that the catechumen has cooperated with that call, the universal Church, through the voice of the bishop, “elects” the catechumen to be initiated through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. In a similar way, the sponsors of those seeking

full communion in the Church testify to the preparation the candidates have undertaken. The bishop doesn’t “elect” them though since they are already baptized. Rather, the bishop recognizes their journey thus far and encourages them to

continue that journey into the Catholic Church. Through the bishop’s recognition, they are reminded that they are joining a Church that extends beyond their own parish community and they go with the prayers and support of the entire Church.

We invite the faithful to join in the celebration of the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.

(This is NOT a Mass.) Please keep the candidates and catechumens in your prayers throughout the Lenten Season as they make their final preparations to receive the sacraments of initiation. If you happen to see any catechumens or candidates in your own church, stop and introduce yourself. They are going to be (God-willing) the newest members of our faith family.

—Originally published in the March 9–15, 2019, Inland See.