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Initiating Adults into the Catholic Church
InitiatingAdults into the Catholic Church
The process by which new members are incorporated into the Catholic Church is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the RCIA. The RCIA is a journey of faith which is made up of several phases. Liturgical rites are celebrated to mark the transition from one phase of the journey to the next.
As the season of Lent approaches, those catechumens (people who are not already baptised) who are discerned as being ready for initiation celebrate the rite of Election or Enrolment of Names. This liturgy is a public statement of the catechumens’ readiness for the sacraments and the Church’s acceptance of their intention to follow the way of Christ.
The rite takes place on the first Sunday of Lent, so that the period of preparation for the climax of their journey at the Easter Vigil, when they will be baptised, confirmed and come to the table of the Eucharist, coincides with Lent. According to the RCIA ritual book, the Rite of Election takes place with the bishop as presider.
Since the introduction of the RCIA into the Archdiocese of Brisbane in the late 1970s, the Rite of Election has been conducted as a parish event. However, in the implementation and development of the RCIA in parishes over the years there have been regular requests for the Rite of Election to be held in the cathedral, with the Archbishop as presider, in accordance with the ritual book and the practice of other dioceses.
Following consultation with the Archbishop, it was decided that from 2011 the Rite of Election in Brisbane will be celebrated in the Cathedral of St Stephen on the first Sunday of Lent, which this year falls on 13th March. The Presentation of the Creed will be celebrated in parishes or deaneries at the discretion of the Parish Priest and RCIA Team. The timing of the change prepares the way for a new bishop who will be used to having the Rite of Election in the cathedral.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults clearly stipulates that the Rite of Election is for catechumens (unbaptised) only. Candidates – those who have been baptised in another Christian tradition and are seeking membership of the Catholic Church– may certainly attend but they stand with the Elect by virtue of their Baptism.
So this Sunday afternoon, catechumens in dioceses in all parts of Australia and around the world will gather in their cathedral churches with their godparents, sponsors, families and friends, parish clergy, pastoral staff and RCIA teams. Although they do not sign the book or come forward, baptised candidates for reception into the Catholic Church will come too, to stand with the baptised in support of the catechumens. They will also be prayed for in the intercessions.
The Rite of Election is a Liturgy of the Word followed by the Election. The latter consists of: Presentation of Catechumens, Affirmation by Godparents, Address by Archbishop, Enrolment of Names, Act of Election, Declaration of Admission, Intercessions for the Elect and for Candidates and Prayer over the Elect.
We pray for all those who will take the next step on their journey to initiation at the Easter ceremonies by participating in the Rite of the Election at the Cathedral this Sunday, and for those who are journeying with them.