Rite of Election of Catechumens & Formal Recognition of Candidates
Record number of people choose to enter the Catholic Church in 2014
The Book of Elect and Basket of Scrolls set before the main altar
Over 200 people presented themselves at the ‘Rite of Election’ on Tuesday 11th March in St Mary’s Cathedral as they prepare to take their places as family members of the Catholic Church. The congregation was swelled by sponsors, family and friends as the cathedral bustled with joyous music from the choir.
The Rite of Election was originally written for catechumens, i.e. the unbaptised. It has been expanded since today’s reality embraces those who are ‘coming home’ to the Catholic faith from Christian denominations with whom the Catholic community has a reciprocal understanding of Baptism. For this reason, the Catholic community in the Archdiocese of Perth now uses the fuller term of ‘Rite of Election of Catechumens and Formal Recognition of Candidates’. In the Archdiocese the Rite is set within a Liturgy of The Word as the guests of honour – the catechumens and candidates – are not yet in full communion with the remainder of the Church.
Delegates from Greenwood Parish
Archbishop Costelloe referred in his sermon to The Transfiguration when Jesus’s face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light in the presence of Moses and Elijah. He spoke of how Jesus’s disciples - Peter, James and John – heard the voice of God saying about Jesus : “Listen to him”. The Archbishop congratulated those present “for the courage you have all shown in choosing to take this important step in your journey of faith”. As the candidates and catechumens were listening to God, said the Archbishop, so too must we all continue to listen to the voice of God and to respond with obedience. “God has been leading you to the point where you have been able to say “yes” to Him,” Archbishop Costelloe went on to say, “and choose the path of life which he has been holding out to you. Your courage, your fidelity to the persistent call of God in your life, and the faith that you have allowed to grow within you, have brought you to this point and you should be honoured, and congratulated and thanked for your openness to God’s Spirit.”
At the Rite of Election, upon the testimony of sponsors and catechists and the catechumens' affirmation of their intention to join the Church, the Church makes its "election" of these catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. This happened in the Archdiocese of Perth in the presence of the Archbishop, Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, Vicar General the Very Rev Peter Whiteley and the Dean of the cathedral, Mgr Michael Keating. The two hundred plus names of those presenting themselves at this Rite were inscribed into the Book of the Elect at the cathedral as a pledge of fidelity. The catechumens are now called "the elect' or "the illuminandi" ("those who will be enlightened").
There has been a continual rise over the years of people asking to be received into the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Perth. In 1994 nearly one hundred were received into the Church. Twenty years later this number has more than doubled with figures generally increasing from year to year.
(1st from the left) Front page of The Record newspaper dated February 24th, 1994 shows how the Rite of Election took place 20 years ago
(2nd from the left) Delegates meet with Archbishop Costelloe after the Rite of Election