Rite of Election – 13th March 2011

After a wet and dull journey to the Cathedral on the First Sunday of Lent, it was appropriate that we emerged into brilliant sunshine after the joyful celebration of the Rite of Election. Once again, the Cathedral was packed for this high point in the Church’s year. This year, there were 22 Catechumens preparing for Baptism, and 65 Candidates preparing to be received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church this Easter. They came with their godparents, sponsors, catechists, parishioners and parish priests from 22 parishes across the Diocese.

Before the service began, Fr Michael Keogh, the Diocesan Co-ordinator of the RCIA, put everyone at their ease and went through the service booklet explaining what would be happening. The service then began with a rousing rendition of ‘Be Thou my Vision‘, which set the scene for what was to follow.

Canon John Lumley, Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation, stood in for Bishop Terence who was unable to attend due to an ecumenical engagement. In his homily, he linked the Gospel of the temptations of Jesus to the questions that would soon be asked of the sponsors and godparents:

Have they listened to God’s word?‘ Men and women do not live on bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. In other words, first we have to listen to God to feed our spirits.

Have they responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence?‘ Do they trust in God enough to build their life on him and live as he asks. In other words, trust God and do not put the Lord your God to the test.

Have they shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters and joined with them in prayer?‘ We can be tempted to worship other gods – the gods of selfishness, possessions, ambition, career or addiction but the Christian puts God first and worships him alone. The agenda for life is: to listen to God, to trust God and to worship God – and only him.

Canon John reminded the Catechumens and Candidates that at Easter they would receive the gift of belonging to God’s family, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the gift of Jesus himself in the Eucharist, and in turn they will be God’s gift to their parish communities, bringing with them their own unique gifts, experiences and insights.

Lewis Yates, from Ss Leonard and Mary’s Parish in Malton, presented the Book of the Elect to Fr Michael. The Catechumens and their godparents then went forward to stand round the sanctuary and, after the godparents had been questioned, the Catechumens went to the altar and publicly signed the Book of the Elect. Canon John then added his signature, and declared the Catechumens now to be the Elect.

The Candidates were then presented and, after their sponsors had spoken on their behalf, were accepted for reception into full Communion with the Catholic Church this Easter. Canon John presented the Elect and the Candidates with a wooden cross, a symbol of new life, and the godparents and sponsors each received a prayer card reminding them of their very special call to prayer, support and encouragement for those in their care.

The service continued with the Intercessions and Blessing, ending with the hymn ‘Guide me, O thou great Redeemer‘. The singing of the Diocesan Choir, led by Tim Harrison, enriched the celebration. Afterwards, there was an opportunity to socialise in the parish hall, and enjoy the hospitality generously provided by the Cathedral parishioners.

Two weeks earlier, on 26th February, Sr Mary Bernard Potter had led the annual Retreat Day for the Catechumens and Candidates at All Saints Lower School in York. Bishop Terry kindly came along at the end of the morning and spoke briefly about the Rite of Election, and also explained why he would be unable to attend. He stayed and circulated over lunchtime, talking to all the groups. During the morning, the Bishop also spent some time with the children preparing for Baptism or Reception into the Church, who had their own ‘Retreat’. At the end of the day, they shared with everyone their own insight into the Lord’s Prayer.

Dates for your diary in 2012

  • Retreat Day: Saturday 11th February 2012 at All Saints Lower School, York
  • Rite of Election: Sunday 26th February 2012 at the Cathedral