When adults wish to become members of the Catholic Church, they must participate in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA. As a part of that process, several events take place in front of the congregational body of the Church, two of which are the Rite of Sending and the Call to Continuing Conversion, and the Rite of Election.
Near or on the first Sunday of Lent in the Diocese of Trenton, catechumens – those who will be baptized, confirmed and receive First Eucharist during the Easter Vigil – are first recognized by what will become their parish community. During Mass attended with their sponsors, they are prayed for, blessed and sent forth to the Rite of Election. This next rite happens later in the day, this year at St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold, where Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., received the catechumens. The catechumens sign the Book of the Elect, a formal record of the names of those from the parish who are preparing for Baptism.
Candidates for full communion in the Catholic Church – those baptized Christians who wish to become full members of the Catholic Church – are recognized in a parallel Rite, the Call to Continuing Conversion. These Christians are called to ongoing conversion as they prepare for Confirmation and Eucharist.
“When a catechumen and the priest and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for Baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election,” states the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website.
“The Rite of Election includes the enrollment of names of all the catechumens seeking Baptism at the coming Easter Vigil,” the site continues. “The catechumens publicly express their desire for Baptism to the diocesan bishop.”
This year in the Diocese of Trenton, there are 185 elect and 460 candidates, 95 of whom are non-Catholic and 365 who have been baptized as Catholics.