In two services at Westminster Cathedral over the weekend 712 people from 119 parishes were welcomed by Cardinal Vincent, the Auxiliary Bishops, along with four Episcopal Vicars and many Deans from the Diocese.
They had all come together for the ‘Rite of Election’, the formal beginning of the more intensive Lenten preparation for being received into the Church at Easter.
Of those present 311 are catechumens with no previous formal Christian commitment, who will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist, whilst the other 401 candidates who have already been baptized in other Christian communities will be received into full communion with the Church, receiving the Sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
In a message to those celebrating the Rite of Election, Cardinal Vincent wrote: “Today marks one of the largest gatherings of people from parishes across the diocese, who join me in giving thanks for the great work that God is carrying out in your lives. We give thanks to God for the ways in which our parishes and diocesan family will be enriched by you and we promise to continue to support you and your families with our prayers and the example of the Christian life that you experience in our parish communities.”
Mary Crowley, Catechetical Adviser, explains: “The RCIA process helps assimilate adult men and women into the Catholic way of life so that they can comfortably pray and serve with the Catholic community. It is an unhurried, deliberate, personal process of growth and understanding. Typically, it takes about 9 months to one year - but each individual takes it at their own pace.
Their journey can include: a deepening personal faith, a response to the Gospel of Christ, worship of God in the liturgy, a growing spiritual and social participation in the life of the Christian community, a knowledge of the beliefs and teachings of the Church and a participation in the Mission of Christ’s people to the world around us.”
One of the candidates, Connie Casey from Our Lady's Parish in St John's Wood, said: “I came to Catholicism via the RCIA, despite being from a large Irish Catholic family. My mum left the decision on religion to us children to make. The desire to do something about my strong leanings towards Catholicism followed a dreadful personal experience. My fiancé was murdered in Australia whilst we were backpacking. Despite all the support from my family and friends I needed something stronger and deeper and the Church, thankfully, answered my call.”