In rites and celebrations across the Diocese over the past few weeks, more than 700 adults and young people seeking full communion in the Church were formally recognized and lifted up in prayer.
Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., officially accepted 168 catechumens (those who have not yet been baptized) for the Rite of Election, held March 10 in St. Robert Bellarmine Co-Cathedral, Freehold. The catechumens, supported by their sponsors, godparents, family members and parish ministers, declared their intention to become fully initiated “Catholic Christians” when they receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil, which falls on April 20.
In other Masses celebrated in March across Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties, parish communities witnessed the Call to Continuing Conversion, the formal recognition of baptized Christians – known as candidates — who are preparing to enter into full communion with the Church through the reception of Confirmation and First Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. According to the diocesan Office of Catechesis, there are 114 non-Catholic and 457 Catholic candidates this year.
In his homily for the Rite of Election, Bishop O’Connell reflected on the name that the catechumens would soon be called. He said, “The name we focus upon today is Christian, Catholic Christian . . . Though we live in a time when it is common to hear religion downplayed as ‘not as important as simply being spiritual … it is simply not true.’”
The catechumens, who formally became “the elect” during the March 10 rite, and the candidates are now in a period of intense spiritual preparation leading up to the Easter Vigil. During this time they will continue to learn about the faith, spend time in prayer, take part in retreats and reflect on what Scripture teaches about the power of Jesus Christ in their lives.