Cathedral again filled with joy for Rite of Election ceremonies

Photo Caption: Hannah Hudson of St. Malachy Parish in Rantoul smiles as Bishop Jenky greets Roxanne Street, who is preparing to receive the Easter sacraments at the Easter Vigil on April 19.

By: By Jennifer Willems

St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria resounded with joy-filled song and applause on March 16, as people preparing to be received into the Catholic Church declared their intention to proceed to the Easter Vigil.

“Last Sunday and this Sunday it is wonderful to see this cathedral filled with those longing for the Easter sacraments and those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, said as he greeted the catechumens and candidates at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

“Your faith and your witness affirms the rest of the Catholic community and fills our lives with hope,” he said. “God bless you for being here.”
Catechumens are those who are seeking the Easter sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. At the Rite of Election their godparents assure Bishop Jenky that the catechumens have “faithfully listened to God’s word” and “begun to walk in God’s presence,” and the people around them promise to include them in “prayer and affection” as they continue their journey of faith.

“Catechumens, I now declare you to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil,” Bishop Jenky said. He charged their godparents “to sustain them through your loving care and example, until they come to share in the sacraments of God’s life.”

After leading the applause for the new members of the elect, he greeted each of them with a handshake, a smile and a few words of encouragement.

Candidates are those who are baptized and now seek to participate fully in the sacramental life of the church. After their sponsors spoke on their behalf and the assembly expressed their willingness to support them “in faith, prayer and example,” Bishop Jenky recognized them in the name of the church.

“Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant,” he said.

After another round of sustained applause, the candidates also had an opportunity to meet Bishop Jenky.

After the prayer service ended, Bishop Jenky returned to the sanctuary to pose for individual and group photos and engage in conversation. He also blessed rosaries, crosses and other devotional items that had been given to the elect and candidates.

Among them was Justin Sechrest of Holy Cross in Champaign, who received a blessing for his grandmother’s rosary, which now rests lovingly in his hands. While his mother was received into the Catholic Church when she married his father, Justin wasn’t baptized as a child.

“My mom felt the time wasn’t right for me,” he told The Catholic Post. “Now was the time for me to get started. It was the right time and the right place.”

He said meeting Bishop Jenky was “something special” and he looks forward to Easter.

The elect and candidates will have an opportunity to shake hands with Bishop Jenky again on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 27, when they will be special guests at the diocesan celebration for the canonization of Blessed Pope John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. The Mass will take place at 10:30 a.m. at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 607 N.E. Madison Ave.

Reserved seats will be available for the new Catholics, their family, friends, godparents and sponsors, and RCIA team members. The newly baptized are invited to wear the “white garment” they received as part of the sacrament.

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