891 adults have taken part in ’Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates’ ceremonies at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March 2011 as they prepare to become Catholics.
They included 829 adults from 144 parishes in the Diocese of Westminster.
At the same time, 62 adults who will become Catholics as part of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham celebrated their call to continuing conversion on their journey to being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
The ceremonies were presided over by the Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols. Auxiliary Bishops of Westminster, Bishop John Arnold, Bishop Alan Hopes and Bishop George Stack assisted, as did, on Saturday 12 March, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Fr Keith Newton.
The presence of Christ
Anthony Curran, Director of Catechetics for the Diocese of Westminster said: “I often read in the paper and hear on radio and T.V. that no one believes in religion and God anymore. Yet, each year at the Rite of Election our Cathedral is full of people who want to affirm their belief in God and His Church. These are people who have found in the Catholic Church the presence of Christ, who invites them in their daily lives to the fullness of life that only God can bring to their lives. This year was truly a historic celebration of the Rite of Election as we were joined by the first group of candidates for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. The celebration of the Rite of Election is a real sign to society and the Church that God is moving in the World and inspiring people to seek the face of His Son Jesus and to live by the Gospel, that He came to proclaim two thousand years ago.”
What is the Rite of Election?
The “Rite of Election” is an ancient ceremony for adults choosing to be baptised as Catholics. The ceremony sees catechumens (those who are preparing to be baptised) ‘elected’ or chosen to receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and eucharist.
The Call to Continuing Conversion celebrates the desire of those baptised in other Christian traditions (candidates) to be received into full communion with the Church. All will be “sent forth” by their bishops to prepare to be received into the Church in parish churches across the Diocese of Westminster at Easter.
2011 saw 371 catechumens and 476 candidates taking part in the weekend’s ceremonies.
'The ultimate truth of Jesus Christ is to be found in the Catholic Church.”
Two people who took part in the ‘Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates’ ceremonies come from the parish of St Michael and St Martin in Hounslow, west London.
Kristina Smith, an accountant said:
“I work as an accountant in the City, but this doesn't define my life. What truly shapes me is the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. I was baptised and confirmed in the Anglican Church, but I went to a Catholic school. I first heard that Jesus loved me at the age of seven and I believed it. I went away from the church for a while, but returned six years ago. I never stopped believing in God but my prayer life dwindled to the occasional emergency prayer! I realised that living in a community was key to growing my faith in God. The Holy Spirit has revealed to me that the ultimate truth of Jesus Christ is to be found in the Catholic Church.”
“I have a passion for evangelism and I long to see all people turn to Christ. I enjoy Mass and I am discovering that it is rich in meaning and significance. We really appreciate all of the prayers you all kindly say for the Catechumens and Candidates. I look forward to the Easter Vigil and to becoming a full member of this community!”
'The Catholic faith appealed to me more and more'
Karishma Menzies, a Primary school teacher said:
“The process so far has been very inspiring, since I joined the group we’ve shared our experiences and I’ve found this very enriching. I was a protestant, a Methodist, and I was born into a Christian family, then in 2008 I got married. My husband is a practicing Catholic and I started to attend Mass with him, and I found the Catholic faith appealed to me more and more. I felt the sense of community and the spirit of the Church resonated within me. Wherever you go there is the same Mass, that sense of the familiarity and coming home. I love to go to my parish church now; they are so a warm and welcoming.”
“I’m really looking forward to the Rite of Election this weekend, and to Easter when I enter into full communion with the Church. I also feel nervous, as it’s like being born again. I have been to a Rite of Election before and found it a moving experience, so it’ll be strange to be part of it this time. Even the Rite of Signing that we have just had in our parish felt one step closer to being part of the Church, being part of a new family. I look forward to entering into that family completely, and am very excited that it won’t be too long now!”