Hundreds voice their desire to join the church

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On Sunday, March 13, 204 catechumens and candidates in the Camden Diocese participated in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, a step to entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

Bishop Joseph A. Galante presided at the two ceremonies at Our Lady of Hope Parish, Blackwood, bringing together catechumens and candidates from Gloucester and Camden counties, and St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish in Northfield, joining those from Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic and Cape May counties.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion are part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for individuals wishing to become Christians in the Catholic tradition.

The 109 catechumens, those unbaptized individuals seeking membership in the Catholic Church and the reception of the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation) were the first to be called up for the Rite of Election by Bishop Galante. Called by name, one by one, the catechumens stood and faced the bishop, who first asked the deacon presenter and the catechumens’ godparents, sponsors and catechists if the catechumens have “faithfully listened to God’s word…begun to walk in his presence…(and) shared the company of their Christian brothers and sisters,” to which the deacon presenter and sponsors answered in the affirmative. The congregation, as well, affirmed their willingness to support the catechumens in their journey to the Catholic faith.

Afterward, each religious education director from a catechumen’s parish presented Bishop Galante with their parish’s Book of the Elect, signed by all the candidates and catechumens, affirming their commitment to Catholic discipleship.

Next came the Call to Continuing Conversion, where the 95 candidates who were baptized in another Christian faith and are now seeking to enter the Catholic Church, were affirmed by their sponsors, family and the congregation. As the catechumens did, the candidates affirmed their readiness to receive the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.

In a little more than five weeks from now, the catechumens and candidates will complete their journey to become members of the Catholic faith and receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil.