SAN DIEGO — In late February, the Diocese of San Diego’s catechumens and candidates will mark a major milestone on the path toward full communion with the Church.
They are a large and diverse group. They include 398 catechumens, those who have never been baptized, and 770 candidates, those who are baptized but have yet to receive their First Communion or confirmation, from about 74 parishes and other Catholic communities.
The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is the annual liturgy at which those enrolled in the RCIA process are presented to the diocesan bishop and chosen to receive the sacraments of initiation at Easter.
“It is a beautiful time of celebrating their journey to Christ and the sacraments,” said Joseph Horejs, associate director of the diocesan Office for Evangelization and Catechetical Ministry, “as well as a reminder to the wider Christian community of our own daily conversion and life in Christ.”
Because of the large number of catechumens and candidates, the diocese will be hosting four Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion ceremonies. The first, with Auxiliary Bishop Ramón Bejarano presiding, will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 25, at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Imperial. Cardinal Robert W. McElroy will preside over another ceremony at 2 p.m. that same day at Good Shepherd Parish in Mira Mesa, as well as two additional ceremonies at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. the following day, also at Good Shepherd.
Horejs said that, from December through the beginning of Lent, his office is “consumed with the planning and logistics of this huge and wonderful event.”
“We all do it for the glory of God and our brothers and sisters that are joining the family of God, the Church,” he said. “The joy and excitement on their faces makes it all worthwhile, and we look forward with joyful anticipation to join with them at the table of the Eucharist as one body in Christ.”
Tickets are required to attend the three ceremonies celebrated by Cardinal McElroy. Others are invited to watch the livestream at sdcatholic.org/roe.
Do You Know the ‘Rite’ Words?
The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion has several terms associated with it that may be unfamiliar to the Catholic in the pews. Here are a few of them defined:
Book of the Elect
A book containing the names of a parish’s catechumens. Each faith community presents such a book to the diocesan bishop for his signature on the day of the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.
One who has already been baptized and seeks full communion with the Catholic Church. Some were baptized into a Protestant denomination; others are baptized Catholics who never received their First Communion and/or confirmation.
An unbaptized person seeking to enter the Catholic Church
Catechumens become “the Elect,” during the Rite of Election. Their new moniker reflects the fact that they have been “elected,” or chosen, to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
A fully initiated Catholic who accompanies a catechumen through the RCIA process
The final period of RCIA, running from Easter to Pentecost, is a time for post-baptismal catechesis, or “mystagogy.” The recently baptized/initiated reflect on the mystery of the sacraments that they have received and on the sacramental life of the Church.
One who has recently received the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil
Acronym for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the formal process for becoming Catholic. The U.S. bishops recently voted to change its name to Order of Christian Initiation for Adults (OCIA).
Sacraments of Initiation
A collective term for the sacraments of baptism, First Communion and confirmation
A fully initiated Catholic who accompanies a candidate through the RCIA process