Two February dates this year for Rite of Election services

If sharing the faith and making a renewed commitment to follow Christ are the goals of this Year of Faith declared by Pope Benedict XVI, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria will be filled with nearly 400 reasons to celebrate on the First and Second Sundays of Lent.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, a prayer service recognizing the men, women and children who are preparing to be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24 this year. Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will preside at both services and personally greet the catechumens and candidates from each parish.

He will return to the sanctuary after each prayer service to pose for photographs with those who wish to have a keepsake of this important step in their faith journey. (Please bring your own camera.)

Catechumens are those who have not been baptized. At the Rite of Election they will be declared “the elect” — chosen by God to be his own.

Candidates are those who have been baptized but have not completed their Christian initiation through the sacraments of confirmation and/or Eucharist. Bishop Jenky will call them to continuing conversion as members of the body of Christ.

About 800 people are expected on Feb. 17, including 68 catechumens and 161 candidates. The following Sunday, 700 will be welcomed to the cathedral, including 49 catechumens and 100 candidates.

Due to sheer numbers two ceremonies have always been held on the First Sunday of Lent — one in the afternoon and one in the evening. Dr. Vincent McClean, director of the diocesan Office of Catechetics, said two different dates were chosen to make it more convenient for those who would be coming long distances.

“February weather is unpredictable. It could be a blizzard or 90 degrees,” he told The Catholic Post. “This way they can come early, tour the cathedral, and they won’t be going home in the dark.”

McClean said prayerful support from the godparents, sponsors, family members and RCIA team members who surround the catechumens and candidates is vital, as are the prayers of their parish communities.

“This is the future of our church,” he said. “Between CCD programs and RCIA, that’s where we’re doing the evangelizing to make the church grow and continue. The Year of Faith provides a special opportunity to do that.”

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