SAN DIEGO — Almost 1,300 people in San Diego and Imperial counties will become Catholic this year.
This includes about 415 catechumens and almost 860 candidates from around 70 local parishes.
The catechumens will receive baptism, confirmation and First Communion at their parishes during the Easter Vigil Mass. The candidates, who are already baptized, will receive the two remaining sacraments of initiation.
“We have once again reached and exceeded pre-pandemic numbers,” said Marioly Galván, diocesan chancellor and director of pastoral ministries, referring to this year’s class of catechumens and candidates.
“The Catholic family continues to grow,” she said, “and we are overjoyed to welcome them home.”
The catechumens and candidates, accompanied by their godparents and sponsors, will attend a special ceremony during the Feb. 17-18 weekend.
The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, as it is called, is the annual diocesan liturgy at which those enrolled in the OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation of Adults) process are presented to the bishop and declared ready to receive the sacraments of initiation at Easter.
The liturgy takes its name from a moment that takes place shortly after the homily, when the bishop declares the catechumens to be “members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil,” and encourages the candidates to hear “the Lord’s call to conversion” and to “be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”
Because of the large number of people preparing to join the Church, Galván said, the diocese will be holding five ceremonies – one more than last year. One will take place on the morning of Feb. 17 at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Imperial. On Feb. 17 and 18, there will be two ceremonies each afternoon at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa.
Auxiliary Bishops Ramón Bejarano and Felipe Pulido will preside over the Imperial Valley ceremony. Cardinal Robert W. McElroy will preside over all four San Diego ceremonies, joined by Auxiliary Bishops Bejarano, Pulido and Michael Pham.
The ceremonies are a ticketed event and not open to the general public.
Galván said the rite “has always been a moment of great hope and joy for our local Church.”
Joseph Horejs, associate director of the diocesan Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry, said that he and his colleagues “love” the annual celebration.
“Those preparing to be received into full communion are chosen by God and embraced by His Church,” he said. “For those of us who are already in the Church, it is a beautiful reminder of our own daily conversion and growth in faith. The catechumens and candidates are a wonderful example for us all on the journey.”