Journeying to Easter: Rite of Election held at four parishes

March 14, 2023

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo reads the names written in a Book of the Elect during the Rite of Election at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston Feb. 26. Four Rites of Election were held around the Archdiocese, with at least 1,820 registered to join or enter full communion with the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. (Photos by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Name by name, the 1,820 registered candidates and catechumens of the Archdiocese were announced during four Rite of Election celebrations on Feb. 26 held around the Archdiocese.

Pew by pew, hundreds stood up as their names were called, a visible sign of their commitment to enter fully in to the Catholic Church as a candidate or catechumen.

Traditionally held on the first Sunday of Lent, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, celebrated the Rite of Election for those preparing to enter the Catholic Church at Easter.

The Rites were celebrated bilingually in English and Spanish at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Spring, Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in northwest Houston and Mary Queen Catholic Church in Friendswood. Roughly 4,000 attended the celebrations.

At the four parishes, during the Rite of Election, the catechumens — those who will be Baptized, Confirmed and receive their First Communion this Easter — are presented with their godparents to the bishops and the faith community. The faithful taking this next step in their journey represented a cross-section of the Archdiocese, diverse in age, race, ethnicity and background, with many families and young people alike standing as their names were called.

After the catechumens publicly affirmed their intention to join the Church, the bishops, on behalf of the Church, accept or “elect” them as being ready to take part in the Sacraments of Initiation.

Slowly, catechist leaders from dozens of parishes lined up in front of the church altars, holding open their Book of the Elect containing the names of those from their parishes. Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro viewed these names, with Cardinal DiNardo thumbing through the pages, complimenting and encouraging the catechists on their efforts to lead the faithful at their parishes.

After the rites, both Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro signed pages upon pages of Books of the Elect, recognizing the names and journeys of the candidates and catechumens.

Following the Rite of Election, the catechumens, now known as “the elect,” begin a period of purification and enlightenment, which is the final, intense preparation for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation during the Easter Vigil.

At Christ the Redeemer, Bishop Dell’Oro encouraged a full-throated response from the catechumens, elect and their sponsors during the celebration of the elect. A paltry “we do” became a boom that echoed throughout the lofty church.

Also celebrated was the Call to Continuing Conversion, which presents the candidates, or those who were already baptized in other Christian traditions recognized by the Catholic Church, who desire to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

During this Rite, Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Dell’Oro reminded the candidates and their sponsors that “Christian life and the demands that flow from the Sacraments cannot be taken lightly.”

In a message to his parish, Father Sean Horrigan, pastor at Christ the Redeemer, encouraged his parishioners to walk with the candidates and catechumens “as they all journey to the table of the Lord.”

“Let us dare to walk with them and ask the Lord guide us all into a more perfect union with the Father,” he said.

At the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Father Jeff Bame, rector of the Co-Cathedral, said “these rites play out in our midst in the life of the Church” and “remind us to pray for our elect and candidates and to accompany them as they come down this stretch (to come into the Church via the Sacraments at Easter).

During Easter Vigil Masses on Saturday, April 8, and throughout the Easter season, at least 1,820 people from parishes across the Archdiocese are registered to enter into the Catholic Church.