Share this story

 | By Dr. Mike Martocchio

Welcoming Them Home

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion

On March 4-8, we celebrated the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion in five locations across the state. This celebration is a major step along the journey for those planning to enter the Church this Easter.

In the Rite of Election, catechumens — a Greek word meaning “one being instructed” — who are anticipating baptism present themselves before the bishop accompanied by their sponsors. Their sponsors and the community testify to their readiness to enter the sacramental life of the Church, and the catechumens sign their names in the Book of the Elect. The bishop then declares them to be members of the elect, meaning that the Church has discerned and affirmed their call to become members the Body of Christ.

These gestures show that a new phase in the journey has been begun, one that is marked by deeper prayer and discernment. This new period is called “Purification and Enlightenment,” and takes place during Lent. The elect will make final preparations in the weeks leading up to Easter to take the life-changing step of receiving the sacraments of initiation, baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.

The Call to Continuing Conversion is a similar liturgical rite, but it is a little different since it’s intended for those who are already baptized and are entering full communion with the Catholic Church.

We, as the Church, recognize that God has already begun to work in their lives because of baptism and that the transformative work that God is doing now is building on that foundation. They are called candidates, and they do not make the formal gesture of signing their names into Book of the Elect like catechumens since they are already united with Christ in baptism. The Church affirms candidates’ call to complete the process of Christian initiation.

This celebration is not simply a nice gesture for catechumens and candidates. Watching people go through this process should remind all the faithful of the transformative significance of our baptism and God’s work in our lives. It should inspire us to renew our vigor for the Gospel and go out and share what we have received. Seeing these liturgical rites is also a reminder for the whole Church to pray for and accompany those who are making the journey into the fullness of faith.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion highlights the need for all the faithful to welcome our newest brothers and sisters and invite them to be active in the life of our parishes and our Church.

Michael Martocchio, Ph.D., is diocesan secretary of evangelization and director of the Office of Catechesis and Christian Initiation.