‘A great sign of hope’: More than 1,100 attend Rites of Election

Catechumens from St. Louise Parish in Bellevue greet Archbishop J. Peter Sartain during the Rite of Election March 7 at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear Catechumens from St. Louise Parish in Bellevue greet Archbishop J. Peter Sartain during the Rite of Election March 7 at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Photo: Stephen Brashear

Nearly 1,200 people preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation at Easter are participating in special liturgies this month with the bishops of the Archdiocese of Seattle.

The Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion “are the final stage of recognition by the bishop that those in RCIA have been ‘elected’ (chosen) by God to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain explained in an email to Northwest Catholic.

Archbishop Sartain and Auxiliary Bishops Eusebio Elizondo and Daniel Mueggenborg are celebrating eight Rites of Election from March 7 through March 16 at parishes from Bellingham to Vancouver.

“Three different groups participate in the rite,” said Jennifer Day, liturgy coordinator for the archdiocese:

  1. catechumens, who will be baptized and confirmed and receive first Communion at the Easter Vigil;
  2. candidates for full communion with the Catholic Church, who were baptized in another faith tradition;
  3. adults who were baptized as Catholics but previously uncatechized, who now seek the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

Approximately 769 catechumens and 424 candidates for full communion, confirmation and Eucharist are scheduled to attend the rites, Day said. This year’s is the largest class of catechumens in the archdiocese since 2011, she noted.

“These catechumens and candidates are a great sign of hope and cause for joy in the archdiocese,” Archbishop Sartain said.

The highlight of the rite, Day said, is when the catechumens enroll, or sign, their names in the Book of the Elect. All the catechumens and candidates — who attend the rites with priests, RCIA team members, godparents/sponsors and family members — also have an opportunity to greet the bishop.

In his homily March 7, Archbishop Sartain told those at a packed St. James Cathedral, “This Rite of Election is God’s affirmation not only that he has called you catechumens and candidates to be his Son’s followers — but that he has called you to be his Son’s disciples in the Body of Christ, the Church, where you will receive lifelong nourishment in Word and Sacrament. For you see, on Holy Saturday evening, when you are baptized and confirmed and receive the holy Eucharist for the first time, he will give you everything you need to be true disciples the rest of your lives, and all the way to eternity.”