They were each called by name, all 68 catechumens, as they participated in the Rite of Election on the pathway to the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist into the Roman Catholic faith. It was the largest group of catechumens that anyone could remember.
“I don’t know why,” said Marian Grady, a member of the Regina Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission, “Some wanted to stay in Catholic schools, for others it was family related, and for some it was because they married into a Catholic family,” said Grady. “There are about 15 children, and some of those are from elementary and Catholic high schools, but the rest are all adults. It’s really quite amazing.”
Kahla Rieger, a Grade 10 student at Miller Catholic High School, explained her decision by saying, “I like the environment in my school and they encouraged me to go to a Catholic church.” Angela Rieger said of her daughter “and she asked me to accompany her (to join the Catholic Church).”
The Yorkton court decision on Theodore that ruled the government could not pay for non-Catholic students to attend Catholic schools had something to do with some decisions to become Catholic. At the time of the decision it was feared that non-Catholic students would have to leave the Catholic school they were attending, and that possibility was not well received.
Other catechumens’ reasons for joining the Catholic Church were similar to Jennifer Schmalenberg’s. “(My husband) and his whole family are Catholic and our kids go to St. Gabriel Catholic School. They were starting to ask questions that I couldn’t answer so I thought I’d better take the next step and here I am.”
Archbishop Bolen welcomed the Catechumens. “Today is a day that fills us, the diocesan church, with great joy.” There are other important events in the life of the church, he said to the packed Cathedral, “but everything in the church begins with Baptism and to have a large group from our parishes throughout the diocese come together with those who are preparing to enter into the church, preparing to enter into the mysteries of baptism, is a source of great joy for the whole Church.”
The ceremony was Liturgy of the Word. No Eucharist was involved. It began with Catechists from each parish coming to the ambo (lectern) with the parish Book of Elect and calling out the name of each Catechumen standing in the pews along with their Godparents. Each group is then ushered to tables in the Sanctuary where they sign the Book of Elect which is then taken to the Archbishop for his signature. All return to their pews and Archbishop Donald Bolen called for a moment of silent prayer for the catechumens. The Cathedral fell silent. The moment of silence was followed by the Act of Election in which Catechumens and godparents responded to Archbishop Bolen’s questions of their intent to join the Catholic faith.
Following this, the Archbishop addressed the congregation. In his homily he talked about the two central mysteries of the Christian faith: The incarnation, the eternal Word of God and the Paschal mystery, “the life, death and rising from death of Christ that is at the very heart of what is a Christian community,” said Bolen.
The Rite of Election is the last step in the process leading to the catechumens accepting the Sacraments of Initiation in their journey of acceptance into the Catholic faith. The journey begins with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a course of study comprised generally of 17 sessions held once a week usually beginning in October. The Rite of Election follows completion of RCIA studies and is normally held on the first Sunday of Lent. The next step for the catechumens is receiving the Sacraments of Initiation which is celebrated at the Easter vigil in their home parish.
The Ceremony was followed by a reception where light refreshments and pastries were served.
ARCHBISHOP BOLEN’S HOMILY
AT RITE OF ELECTION CEREMONY
FEBRUARY 18, 2018
By Frank Flegel
Archbishop Donald Bolen told the latest group of Catechumens gathered February 18 at Holy Rosary Cathedral for the Rite of Election celebration that the Incarnate Word made Flesh and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the two central mysteries that define Christianity.The remarks were contained in his homily to 68 Catechumens, the largest such group in anyone’s memory.
His homily had two parts: In the first he talked about what is central to Christianity and explained the meaning of the two mysteries and in the second he talked about the season of Lent as a time for transformation.
“God Chooses to become one of us in the Incarnation,” said the Archbishop. “It speaks of God’s desire to be profoundly near, to be where we are, to speak to us in a language that we can understand and, it’s the language of being one with us and living with us. That’s the first mystery on which our faith hinges.”
The second mystery, he said, is the life, death and resurrection of Christ. “This mystery of Passover is at the very heart of who we are as a Christian community; it’s the mystery of the Word made Flesh, the will to give everything, even Himself on the Cross, in order to communicate the radical depth of God’s love.” Bolen said when we are born we are born into a mystery. “We do not really know who we are or what we are here for but because of the Incarnation and the Paschal mystery we believe we were created for a purpose, beloved by God, who wants nothing more than to transform us into his beloved children with whom He will spend eternity.” When you are baptized into the faith you are being immersed into the faith of which those two mysteries speak.”
Bolen told the catechumens. “We are grateful that the Holy Spirit led you in this direction, and we are grateful for those who have helped to form and prepare you for your Baptism and Confirmation.” He then connected their Baptism and Confirmation to the death and rising from death of Christ as the completion of that mystery.
He continued with a description of what the season of Lent is in the Church. “It is a season where we are called and reminded each year that God’s transformative work within us isn’t finished yet.” Again addressing the Catechumens especially, “Lent is the last stage of a journey where you are invited to let the superficial things in life slide off to the side and to immerse yourself into what God desires for you. To name you as one who is going to carry out Christ’s work in the world so that the world is transformed.”
The Rite of Election is usually held on the first Sunday of Lent. It is the last step of a journey that leads to the Sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist which the Catechumens will receive at the Easter Vigil of their home parish, and join the Catholic faith.