The Rite of Election at St. Patrick’s Cathedral March 6 drew more than 220 catechumens who were thanked by Cardinal Dolan “for the inspiration you give me.”
The cardinal served as principal celebrant and homilist at the afternoon ceremony.
“You sure are welcomed here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on this First Sunday of Lent, for our beautiful Rite of Election. Let us pray,” said the cardinal in his opening remarks. “God our Father…protect all who are about to become members of your Church.”
During his homily, the cardinal expressed gratitude to clergy and laypersons who have guided the catechumens “towards full inclusion in the family of the Church at the Easter Vigil. Thanks for your leadership.”
He also thanked all who were present, including women religious, sponsors, godparents and the catechumens—“and I thank God because He is the one who has called you.”
“This is His Call, His invitation,” Cardinal Dolan said. “This is the spark He gave you, the spark of faith to call you closer to Him as a member of the one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.”
“And I thank you as well just for the inspiration you give me,” the cardinal told the catechumens. “Just know that I thank you for the inspiration and the shot in the arm that you give me.”
The cardinal went on to speak about the significance of family and forgiveness. “The Church is a family. The Church is God’s family,” he said, noting that just as family members and extended family members care for and look out for one another, the Church family provides care through the sacraments and spiritual guidance.
“Our family in the Church isn’t just here on Earth, in March of 2022. We’re eternal,” he said.
The catechumens came from 52 parishes across the archdiocese. Nearly 1,000 people attended the ceremony, including supportive loved ones of the catechumens. The Rite of Election was conducted in English and Spanish.
The catechumens included 13 youths, ages 7 to 13, who completed a Rite of Christian Initiation program designed for that age group. All the others, beginning at age 14, completed the standard RCIA (Rite of Chrstian Initiation of Adults).
After the homily, Oscar Cruz, archdiocesan director of the Catechumenate, told the cardinal that the catechumens “have found strength in God’s grace and support in their parish community…”
Afterward, the catechumens stood together with their godparents; the godparents responded, “They have” for the Affirmation, and the catechumens responded, “We do” to the Invitation.
The catechumens, accompanied by their godparents, then came forward as their names were called—parish by parish—to sign the Book of the Elect.
The catechumens have participated in the Catechumenate program and are preparing to enter the Catholic Church in their parishes at the Easter Vigil, April 16, when they will receive the sacraments of initiation—baptism, confirmation and First Holy Communion.
Damalis Martinez, a parishioner of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, was one of the catechumens. “I feel really blessed to be here. This is very special,” Ms. Martinez, 34, told CNY after the ceremony. “It’s amazing to be here and see all the parishes being part of this; it’s really nice.” She said she appreciated the cardinal’s message about the Church being a family.
Francesca Natoli, 16, was another catechumen; she’s a parishioner of St. Mary Mother of the Church in Fishkill. “People need to find peace within themselves, and God is a good way to do that,” said Francesa afterward.
Her godfather is her uncle, Anthony Panio, who said, “It’s a big day. My niece has gone through a lot of tough times. This is a great opportunity for her to be part of the bigger family.”
Francesca’s mother, Danielle, was next to her and proudly said, “Now she’s an elect.”
The Call to Continuing Conversion is for candidates who have already been baptized, who have participated in their parish Catechumenate and who are preparing to complete their initiation in the Church. They will receive the sacraments of confirmation and First Holy Communion in their parishes during the Easter season.
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