Photos by James A. McBride
The Rite of Election 2014
BLACKWOOD – The Camden Diocese’s annual Rite of Election was held March 9 at Our Lady of Hope Parish, as catechumens took one step closer to entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
An estimated 140 catechumens – unbaptized believers seeking membership into the Catholic faith – from 42 parishes, took part in the ceremony led by Bishop Dennis Sullivan at St. Agnes Church.
Among them was Adam Wallace, a 25-year-old Merchantville resident from a Protestant background who said he found “truth and meaning” in the catechism of the Catholic Church and through his participation in the process for entering the church.
Wallace was hired last fall as music teacher at St. Peter School, and subsequently became the children’s choir director for Sunday liturgies. With the encouragement of Father Anthony Manuppella, pastor, he started exploring the possibility of becoming Catholic himself.
The Rite of Election is part of the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), the process taken by individuals who want to become Christians in the Catholic tradition.
During the rite, the catechumens, who were supported by their godparents, sponsors and catechists, answered in the affirmative to Bishop Sullivan’s asking if they desired “to enter fully into the life of the church through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.”
Bishop Sullivan also asked the godparents and the gathered assembly if the catechumens are “sufficiently prepared to be enrolled among the elect for the coming celebration of the Easter sacraments” and have “faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed by the church, (and) responded to that word and begun to walk in God’s presence,” to which they answered affirmatively.
The catechumens, with their respective parish catechist, then met Bishop Sullivan at the altar, receiving his blessing and presenting him with the Book of Elect, signed by the catechumens and marking their commitment to become disciples of Christ.
In a little more than five weeks, they will receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil at their parishes.
Bishop Sullivan reminded all of those gathered in Blackwood of the importance of developing a relationship in Christ.
“We need to remain rooted in him, abide, and sit with him,” he said. “In the church we have life, but if we are separated from him, we are branches that bear no fruit. The love of Christ draws us in fully, and we are incorporated into the church.”
David Ludlam, 39 years old, travelled to Blackwood from All Saints Parish in Millville, and is eager to receive the sacraments at the Easter vigil.
“After I went to a spiritual retreat in Malvern, Pa. in September, I wanted more (of the Catholic faith),” he said.
“I’m getting closer to Christ, surrounding myself with people who are Christ-like; that’s what I want.”