Diocese of Memphis Receives Over 300 Prospective Catholics During Rite of Election, Amy Hall 

March 11, 2020

MEMPHIS, TN — Over 300 men and women who will join the Catholic Church within the Diocese of Memphis at the Easter Vigil were recognized during the annual Rite of Election at our Cathedral on March 1. This annual tradition is a formal Rite during which catechumens are presented and their names are entered into the Book of Elect.

The 68 catechumens were joined by an additional 236 candidates who also participated in the formal ceremony and are recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

The catechumens were joined by candidates who also participated in the formal ceremony and are recognized during the celebration for answering the call to their continuing conversion.

The Rite of Election was presided over by Bishop David P. Talley who commended each for making the commitment to answer the call of Jesus Christ by becoming members of the Church in the Diocese of Memphis.

The catechumens and candidates who were recognized by Bishop Talley will be welcomed as part of the Easter Vigil celebration at their respective parishes. St. Michael Catholic Church, with 43 participants, along with St. Paul Catholic Church, with 32 participants had the largest groups of catechumens and candidates.

Each came forward for different reasons, but a key first step in this process is developing a personal friendship with Jesus Christ.

This process should be a conversion of the heart, as each catechumen and candidate must prevent outside influences, such as things, people or objects, standing in their way of developing that relationship with the Lord.

“God blesses the mess and blesses the stress of our lives each day and the Rite of Election is a pivotal first step in that blessing and walk in the truth of Christ,” said Father Ben Bradshaw, pastor of St. Michael Catholic Church.  “From my perspective as a pastor, it’s just plain awesome to walk with the people of God as they discover the meta-physical beyond the physical – that is the spiritual beyond the bodily in their own lives! Very cool.”

The catechumens are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). RCIA is for those who are unbaptized and unchurched, who come to inquire about becoming part of the Roman Catholic Faith. Often catechumens are those who have begun to seek and understand God in their lives and have been led by the Holy Spirit to become Catholic.

RCIA is not simply a course on Catholicism; it is a journey of discovery and faith. This is most commonly done is three distinct phases: discernment, acceptance into the catechumenate and purification and enlightenment.

Each catechumen will go through a series of scrutinies during which they examine their readiness to accept Christ and the Catholic Faith in the form of the Sacraments of Initiation. This time culminates at the Easter Vigil when the catechumens are received through Baptism into the Catholic Church. The final period of RCIA is the time of “Mystagogy” (post-baptismal catechesis). During the weeks following the Easter Vigil, the newly initiated live more profoundly their experience of Baptism and the Eucharist as they begin the journey of discipleship and their growing union with Christ.

For candidates, those who have been baptized in the name of the Trinity, the Catholic Church does not require re-Baptism. Candidates have already experienced a journey of faith and have some understanding of how Jesus leads us to the Father through the work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, many have been attending Mass with their families for years but may have never received the Sacrament of Holy Communion or the Sacrament of Confirmation. Candidates, therefore, are in a separate group and are not necessarily required to wait an entire year before being welcomed into the Church.

The candidates are invited to the Cathedral for the Rite of Election as a form of welcome, but because they are already in the Book of the Elect as baptized Christians, they do not bring their names forward; rather they come forward and make the sign of the cross with holy water as a reminder of their Baptism and sign of their continuing conversion.

Everyone is encouraged to pray for and welcome the catechumens and candidates at their own parish as they continue their journey of discovery in their Faith.




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