622 people from 123 parishes gathered at Westminster Cathedral on 13 and 14 February to celebrate the Rite of Election and call to continuing conversion, a key milestone in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The liturgies were presided over by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Bishops John Sherrington, Nicholas Hudson, Paul McAleenan and John Wilson, along with many Deans from the diocese.
During the Rite of Election the Cardinal declared 269 catechumens to be ready and to have been chosen by the community, as the Elect, to go forward to prepare for the Sacraments of Initiation of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion at Easter. During the call to continuing conversion, 353 candidates who are already baptised Christians, were affirmed by their sponsor and the assembly. The Church recognises their desire to complete their initiation in order to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Welcoming those assembled each day, Cardinal Vincent said, ‘Today is a day of great thanksgiving – thanksgiving for the gift of Faith and the generous response of our catechumens and candidates.’
In his homily, the Cardinal began by recounting the story of Pope Francis’ response to the Lord’s call as a young man when ‘he experienced a great sense of being called and chosen to respond to God with his entire life’.
Speaking of the Lord’s call to each person given in the Gospel reading, he encouraged all who were present to recall ‘the particular ways or moments in which that invitation has come to you’ and to give thanks for this ‘precious invitation’.
The Cardinal also spoke of the burdens which the Lord tells us to give over to him, particularly ‘the weariness we feel with our own wrongdoing’. In this is the invitation to confess, to ‘acknowledge our weakness, our need,’ and to ‘name and confess our sins’.
The Cardinal explained that to confess is also to ‘proclaim our faith in Jesus’ and ‘this is what we do today’. He went on to say that ‘faith is a gift from Jesus’ and that ‘we are here because we have been chosen…to receive this gift of faith’ and ‘to help each other to live by faith and to be its messengers in our world’.
The full text of the Cardinal's homily can be found here.