Rite of Election, one of most ‘beautiful’ and ‘happiest’ events, welcomes 437

Sister Paulette Joerger, OP, of St. Malachy Parish in Rantoul introduces a candidate to Bishop Jenky during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion last spring. This year's ceremonies will take place Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. (The Catholic Post file/Jennifer Willems)

As a Marine traveling the world, Matt Bidwell of Lincoln witnessed many ceremonies, but the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria last Sunday eclipsed them all.

“It was honestly one of the most beautiful events I’ve ever seen. This was so powerful,” said Bidwell, who will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time at the Easter Vigil at Holy Family Church in Lincoln on April 15. His son, Roman, 6, will be baptized at the same time. (For a story on Matt Bidwell’s faith journey, click here.)

Tina Lauzon presents the Book of the Elect from St. John the Baptist, Clinton, and Sacred Heart, Farmer City, to Bishop Jenky for his signature. Those preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil, who come to the Rite of Election as catechumens and leave as members of “the elect,” place their names in the book before coming to the cathedral. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

As Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, welcomed those who are preparing to be received into the church at Easter, along with their sponsors, catechists and families, he said it was a special day for him, too.

“This is one of the happiest events of our liturgical year, when those folks who have met the Lord Jesus Christ and are called to the Easter sacraments and those brothers and sisters who are called to the full communion of the Catholic Church assemble here,” he said. “You are the life and the vibrancy of our church.”

He drew laughter when he added, “Everybody knows new Catholics are the best Catholics.”


The Rite of Election on March 5 and the one that will be held this Sunday, March 12, recognize the 437 children, women and men in parishes around the diocese for the progress they have made on their spiritual journey and assure them of the community’s prayer and support as they move toward Easter.

Among them are 163 people who will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist. These catechumens were declared members of the “elect” by Bishop Jenky, who told them “God is faithful to those he calls.”

“Now it is your duty, as it is ours, both to be faithful to him in return and to strive courageously to reach the fullness of truth, which your election opens up before you,” he said, charging their godparents to “sustain them through your loving care and example, until they come to share in the sacraments of God’s life.”

Surrounded by catechumens, candidates and sponsors from St. Thomas Parish in Philo, Bishop Jenky blesses a crucifix given to Trevor Hahn after the Rite of Election March 5. Looking on (right) is Father Robert Lampitt, pastor. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Another 274 people who are already baptized and will complete their Christian initiation by being confirmed and receiving the Eucharist or being received into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil are called to “continuing conversion” during the prayer services. They are known as candidates.

Noting their desire “to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a place at Christ’s Eucharistic table,” Bishop Jenky invited the candidates to “join with us this Lent in a spirit of repentance. Hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to your baptismal covenant.”

Bishop Jenky welcomed each of the catechumens and candidates personally and returned to the cathedral sanctuary after the Rite of Election concluded to pose for photos and bless crosses and other religious items.

For Bidwell, it was another highlight of a day filled with special moments.

“Being that close to Bishop Jenky, you really come to realize the office that he holds and how powerful that is,” he told The Catholic Post. “It’s kind of a humbling experience.”

For many, it was the first time they had been in St. Mary’s Cathedral since the renovation was completed last year and they stayed to take photos and visit the St. Thomas More Chapel to see the collection of saints’ relics housed there.

More photos from the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion will be posted to The Catholic Post’s site on Facebook. 

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