Across two days, 29th February and 1st March, Cardinal Vincent Nichols welcomed a total of 198 Catechumens and 202 Candidates to Westminster Cathedral for the Rite of Election. For these 400 individuals, the service marked a significant step towards full communion with the Catholic Church. During the celebration, the Catechumens publicly declared their desire to participate in the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. The Candidates, who have already been baptised, publicly voiced their wish to complete their initiation into the Catholic Church and participate in the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist. In most parishes, the Candidates and Catechumens will participate in these sacraments for the first time at the Easter Vigil.
The Celebration of Election began with the Catechumens being presented to the Cardinal by Bishop Nicholas Hudson. The Catechumens and their Godparents were then invited to stand. The Godparents answered three questions from the Cardinal acknowledging the Catechumens’ preparations for the sacraments and the Catechumens answered one question confirming their wish to enter fully into the life of the Church. A book containing the names of the Catechumens was then brought forward, carried by a representative of the parishes, who was received into the Church last Easter. The Cardinal blessed the book and then declared the Catechumens to be members of the Elect. The book will remain in the Cathedral’s Baptistry until Easter, with a notice asking all who pass to pray for the Elect and for the Candidates.
This was followed by the Celebration of the Call to Continuing Conversion. Bishop Nicholas Hudson presented to the Cardinal the Candidates who are already baptised and who desire to complete their Christian initiation at Easter. The Candidates and their Sponsors were then invited to stand. The Cardinal recognised the Candidates’ desire to participate in these sacraments and the Sponsors declared their intention to support the Candidates.
All the Catechumens and Candidates were then invited to come forward to receive a greeting of welcome from the Cardinal and the bishops. The names of the parishes in each deanery were called out by the deans, with each parish group led by a catechist.
The Cardinal closed the celebration with a prayer over the Elect and the Candidates and a special dismissal and blessing addressed to these individuals. During the final hymn, the Cardinal and the bishops processed to the piazza outside the cathedral ready to greet the congregation after the celebration.
The Mass for new Catholics will be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral by Cardinal Vincent on 23rd May at 6.00pm.