Candidates, catechumens pledge intent to join Church

DETROIT — Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron said being joined to the Catholic Church is much like a “betrothal,” and urged those coming into full communion this Easter to cast off sin and death through their upcoming marriage to Jesus.

A young boy signs his name to be placed in the Book of the Elect on Feb. 17 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“To belong to the New Covenant is to be married to Christ,” the archbishop told some 800 people gathered Feb. 17 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament for the annual Rite of Election, when candidates and catechumens formally declare their intent to be sacramentally brought into the Church at the Easter Vigil. In addition to the archbishop, each of the archdiocese’s four auxiliary bishops presided over Rite of Election ceremonies Feb. 16 or 17.

“It’s about initiation, it’s about becoming part of some thing — indeed, somebody — part of Jesus,” the archbishop said. “And so, it’s by thinking about what you will enter, who you will enter, that we can in some sense better understand this Rite of Election, indeed everything that will take place between now and the Pascal Vigil.”

In total, 135 parishes brought 2,535 people — both adults and children — to participate in Rite of Election ceremonies last weekend, which included catechumens, candidates, Catholic candidates, sponsors and members of parish RCIA teams.

Catechumens are those who have never been baptized, candidates are those baptized in another Christian faith, and Catholic candidates are those who were baptized Catholic but did not complete their other sacraments, including confirmation or first communion.

Archbishop Vigneron said part of the “drama” of entering the Church is acknowledging sin and then accepting Christ’s help to beat it through the sacraments.

“You want to be like Christ, and in Christ, in the struggle against sin. And so like Christ and in Christ live forever in the glory of the Father. That’s what you’re getting into. It’s a good thing to get into that, isn’t it? It’s the best way to solve the problem of sin and death.”

Among the distinctive features of the Rite of Election is the calling forward of catechumens, who write their names on pages to be added to the Book of the Elect, which is then presented to the archbishop. The catechumens then proceed to the sanctuary, where they are questioned by the archbishop as to their intent.

At the Easter Vigil, March 30 this year, catechumens will be baptized — most at their own parishes — and candidates and Catholic candidates will receive the sacraments of confirmation and Holy Communion.