2015 Rite of Election
THE LORD HAS CHOSEN YOU" SAYS ARCHBISHOP COSTELLOE
Clockwise from top left: Angela Studman, John Harrison, Vi Hayes, Paul Lydiat and Melanie Caddick (centre) took part in the Rite of Election of Catechumens and Formal Recognition of Candidates liturgy. PHOTOS: Supplied
(See below for a copy of the full text of Archbishop Tim Costelloe's homily)
At the very heart of our Christian life is the awareness that we are called by God to be members of Christ’s body.
Furthermore, Christians understand that they are chosen by Jesus to be part of the Christian community in accordance with the Gospel passage, “You did not choose me, no I chose you” (Jn 15:16).
Both these concepts had a profound resonance in yesterday evening’s Rite of Election of Catechumens and Formal Recognition of Candidates liturgy, presided over by Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth.
More than 150 individuals were ‘elected’ by the Church to take another decisive step toward receiving the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion – at this year’s Easter Vigil.
In the presence of the Church, the catechumens (those who are receiving instruction from a catechist with a view to Baptism) and candidates (those who are baptised in another Christian denomination) were invited by the Archbishop to become full members of the Catholic faith – an invitation which they proudly accepted.
The catechumens’ names were formally inscribed in the Book of Elect, while the candidates’ names were inscribed in the Book of Recognition. This signifies that they have heard God call their name and wish to respond to His call.
Catechumens Melanie Caddick and Vi Hayes and candidates John Harrison, Paul Lydiat and Angela Studman – who have been regularly meeting with Our Lady of the Mission Whitford parish RCIA coordinator Ann Cunneen – agreed to share their experience of the RCIA program with Archdiocese of Perth Communications and Media Office journalist Marco Ceccarelli.
Soon to be baptised, Vi Hayes and Melanie Caddick spoke about their ongoing association with the Catholic Church and the Catholic education system as a contributing factor to their growing desire to receive Baptism.
Head of English at Mercy College, Melanie Caddick said that since joining the Catholic education system four years ago, she has come to enjoy the Masses and services.
“I now feel like I know what I am doing and saying – I finally get it,” she said.
“I’ve never before experienced such a welcoming school/system – our school motto of Love in Action is apparent every day.”
This ongoing association with the Church also characterised Vi Hayes’ experience. After years of being in contact with the Catholic Church through her husband, children and grandchildren, Mrs Hayes said that she will now feel at home with them.
She acknowledged the Rite of Election as a significant step towards a much greater event of Baptism at this year’s Easter Vigil.
“I look forward to the fulfilment of the journey I have undertaken.”
Also present at the liturgy were candidates from the Anglican Church and other protestant Churches seeking to make the Catholic Church their spiritual home.
One of these, Paul Lydiat, longs to join his wife, four children and 12 grandchildren in the Catholic faith. He found the RCIA process to be informing, interesting and humbling.
“I am experiencing raw emotions brought on by the sacrifices and sufferings made by our Lord that I am learning about,” Mr Lydiat said.
“That this man should sacrifice himself for my spiritual being is emotional to me, to say the least. I am learning to be more loving, more humble, more understanding and less judgemental to everyone in my life. I want to make more sacrifices to help people and accept everyone for who they are,” Mr Lydiat added.
Ex-member of the Royal Navy and retired catering manager John Harrison, who was baptised in a protestant church, will also be receiving Confirmation and Holy Communion this Easter.
Mr Harrison spoke fondly of his formative experience.
“One thing that particularly had a profound effect on me was receiving the priest’s personal blessing – I experienced a very warm, emotional feeling,” he added.
Born in the United Kingdom and originally baptised in the Church of England, Angela Studman was introduced to the Catholic faith by her husband at the age of 18. Over time, her desire to become part of the Catholic Church brought her to the RCIA.
“I love the feel of the Catholic Church community. I started being invited to holy communions and baptism celebrations and realised this is how I wanted to bring my children up. I want us as a family to enjoy the journey together,” she said.
Perth Archdiocesan coordinator for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program, Karen Hart, said the Church believes that no one comes to faith without being called by God.
“God initiates, God calls, God converts,” Ms Hart said.
“This celebration recognises that God is indeed calling people into the life of the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation,” she said.
“Parishes throughout Perth involved in the ministry of the RCIA program journey with those whom Christ has called to ‘come and see’ how Catholics live, pray and worship.
“The elect, while deepening their personal relationship with Christ, within a parish community, will discern over Lent their readiness to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter, thereby becoming new members of the Catholic Church.”
When they return to their parishes, the elect will pass through the scrutinies, receive special blessings as they near the Easter Vigil, and will be presented with the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
This year’s Easter Vigil will take place at St Mary’s Cathedral on Easter Saturday, 4 April 2015.
RITE OF ELECTION HOMILY
by the Most Rev Tim Costelloe SDB, Archbishop of Perth - St Mary's Cathedral, 26 February 2015
When I was a young man in my final years of training for the priesthood there was a very popular hymn written by an Australian composer, Kevin Bates. We will in fact be using one of his other hymns during tonight's liturgy. The hymn was called "A Journey Remembered" and it was often sung at ordinations or at the ceremonies of final, life-long commitment of young men and women who were becoming nuns or brothers.
Basically it is a hymn which celebrates, with gratitude, all those events, and especially all those people, who have been part of the life-story of someone who has been led by God to a moment of decision in his or her life. Especially it is a recognition that God has been working, often quietly and in a sense unrecognised, leading a person to a point where he or she can hear God's invitation, welcome it with joy and respond to it with courage. Each one of you who is here tonight for this Rite Of Election is in exactly this position. God has been speaking to you, probably quietly and gently but with persistence, calling you to let go of your fears and your doubts and take the step of committing yourselves to him in his Church.
It is for this reason that the words of tonight's first reading will certainly strike a chord in your hearts: do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name, you are mine. Tonight I want to encourage you to really believe that these words are being spoken to you, very personally and very directly, by the Lord. It is true that you are here because you have had the courage to step forward, to take the steps which have brought you here this evening, to make the decisions that had to be made. But in the end you are here tonight not so much because of what you have done, or what others have done for you, important though all of that is. You are here because of what God has done, and is still doing, in you and for you. When Jesus gathered with his disciples for the last time, just before his betrayal by Judas, he said to them something which he also says to you this evening: you did not choose me, no I chose you, and I commission you to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last.
There are three verses in the hymn I mentioned at the beginning of this homily. Each of them has something to say to us all his evening.
In the first verse, the hymn speaks to God who, the words say, "carried me within your arms whenever I've known fear. You waited patiently for me, and stayed beside me even when I didn't know, or even want to know, that you are my home and my joy". The gift of God's love is always with us, even when we don't know how to recognise it, and even when we are too frightened to open ourselves to it. Love, especially when it is absolutely unconditional, as God's love always is, can sometimes be frightening. It calls to our best selves, our deepest selves, and urges us to let go of all that is unworthy of us - but this can be hard, and demanding, and we sometimes don't want to make the effort. But God's patient love never gives up. God knows when the time is right. God gently prepares us for his call - and then he speaks, in one way or another, to our hearts. He has spoken to you - and you have said "yes, here I am".
The second verse of the hymn speaks of God touching our doubt with hope, setting us free from our fears and our hopelessness, and once again planting deep within us the realisation that he is our home and our joy. The faith to which we commit ourselves is not one that promises us freedom from difficulty, from challenge, from suffering. It is a faith that promises us that the God who has made himself known in Jesus will walk with us in our moments of darkness as surely as he will in our moments of tranquility and peace. When he says to us, "Do not be afraid for I am with you" he means it.
The last verse of the hymn is a song of thanksgiving for all the ways in which God has walked with us throughout our life. It gives thanks for our family, our home, and especially the goodness of those who in their love for us have given us a glimpse of what it means to say that God loves us. It is a profound conviction of our Catholic tradition that God calls us to find our way to him as a community. To become a Catholic, or to live more fully as a Catholic, is to commit ourselves not only to God but also to each other as brothers and sisters who travel the journey of faith together. Each one of you already knows what it means to belong to another - to your husband or wife, to your children or your parents, to your brothers and sisters, to your deeply loved ones. Through this belonging God has been teaching you want it means to love and to be loved. Now he invites you into the life of his Church and asks you to let yourselves be loved by your brothers and sisters in the faith, and to love them.
Between each verse of the hymn of course there is a chorus. The words are simple:"O praise the Lord my soul - My God how great you are." As you step forward in a few moments to be formally acknowledged, and chosen - elected as the Rite describes it - I hope your own heart and soul are singing this refrain. O Lord how great you are - you have called me by my name - I do not need to be afraid any more - you have chosen me.
So come forward with hope; come forward with joy; come forward with confidence; and come forward with hearts full of gratitude. The Lord has chosen you - now choose him within the community of his Church, where he awaits you, and where he promises you companions on your journey, food for your strengthening, the wisdom of his Spirit to guide you, the prayers of his mother to accompany you, forgiveness and healing to comfort you, and the serenity and peace you seek, which can only be found in him.