Rite of Election Returns to Cathedral on First Sunday of Lent

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The annual Rite of Election is returning to St. Patrick’s Cathedral after a one-year absence amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This is a great sign of the power of the Holy Spirit, that people are still looking for initiation in the Catholic Church even though it’s been very difficult for people to even attend Mass in the past” because of Covid-19, said Oscar Cruz, director of the Catechumenate for the archdiocese. 

Cardinal Dolan will preside at the liturgy on the First Sunday of Lent, March 6, at 2 p.m.

As of Feb. 18, 200 catechumens representing 50 parishes were preparing to enter the Catholic Church at their own parish churches during the Easter Vigil April 16, according to Cruz.

Catechumens—adults and children of catechetical age, 7 and older, who have not been baptized, confirmed, nor received First Holy Communion—the sacraments of initiation—take part in the Rite of Election during which they are declared members of the elect. 

Traditionally, the cardinal serves as principal celebrant at the Rite of Election at the cathedral. Last year, because of Covid-19, he delegated that responsibility to pastors and priests  of the respective parishes.

Cruz, in an interview with CNY, said, “the churches are able to attend to these people, and they’ve made a lot of sacrifices.” He was referring to the coordinators, pastors and parishes who help the people prepare themselves for the sacrament of initiation, including remotely amid Covid-19 through Zoom classes and other virtual conferencing platforms.

“It’s a great sign of hope,” he said, that the Church remains “alive and well and welcoming people into its midst.”

Cruz applauded the valiant efforts of the coordinators and team members at the parish level who have risen above the challenges caused by the coronavirus. “All these courageous lay ministers and religious and priests and deacons out there in the parishes who really have not given up on the mission of the Church, to welcome people into the body of Christ. It’s a great testimony to the power of grace and the Spirit.”

The significance of celebrating the rite at the cathedral, Cruz said, is that “the cathedral’s a sign of the unity of the Church—that we’re all one, big, Catholic family. We’re not joining just our parish, but we’re joining the Catholic Church, the universal Church.”

“It’s a great opportunity for new members of the Church to see the bigness and the beauty” of the faith from across the archdiocese, including those who are “Hispanic, Chinese, African American, Irish, Portuguese, French Creole, all different ethnic groups represented in the cathedral at the Rite of Election. It’s a beautiful testimony to the universality of the Church.”

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 respective parishes during this coming Easter season.

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