152 Candidates, Catechumens Celebrate Rite of Election
By SR. MARA LESTER
Each of us has been journeying in recent months having focused on the Lenten Season and, soon, Easter. We have focused our attention in turning away from sin and being more faithful to the Gospel and to entering into the joy of the Resurrection.
For a longer duration than the 40 days of Lent, the catechumens and candidates in our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program have made a commitment to pursue the Catholic faith, and have sought growth toward God. Many dedicated persons and local parishes assisted them in careful instruction and supported each person as he or she gained knowledge and love of the Catholic Faith.
On March 5, 2017, the first Sunday of Lent, our catechumens (RCIA participants who have never been baptized) traveled to Queen of Angels Church in Austin to publicly affirm their intention to join the Church, and our candidates (those who have been baptized in other Christian denominations) expressed their desire to participate in the full sacramental life of the Church.
In the presence of Bishop Quinn, the catechumens inscribed their names in the Book of the Elect, which will be displayed at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Winona for the entirety of the Easter Season, and the candidates warmly greeted him. Through this rite, the catechumens have come to be considered the “elect.” The elect and candidates will now spend the remainder of Lent intensely preparing for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation and full reception into communion with the Catholic Church at this year's Easter Vigil.
"You are the springtime of the Church," Bishop Quinn told catechumens and candidates in his homily, which was translated into Spanish by Fr. Raúl Silva. "Because of you, we know the church is growing and the gospel is being spread. ... You will be the good news, written for a new generation, written for your neighbors, written for your coworkers. Sisters and brothers, how proud I am of you, and so grateful to have you!"
May we continue to offer our congratulations and prayers for the 152 newly baptized and confirmed members of the Diocese of Winona, especially as they continue their formation and education. Their journey, in participating more fully in the sacramental life of the Church, brings growth not only to local parishes but also to our diocesan church. May each of us recognize the gift we have in the sacramental life of the Church, and may our joy abound during this Easter Season!