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Candidate Jamie Snyder, left, of St. Peter Parish in Omaha, and her sponsor, Laura Ortiz, of St. Matthew the Evangelist Parish in Bellevue, greet Archbishop George J. Lucas during the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion of the Baptized March 10 at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha. MIKE MAY/STAFF

Catechumens, candidates begin final preparation

Aspirants to the Catholic faith entered the final leg of their journey March 10 as they traveled to St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha to take part in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion of the Baptized with Archbishop George J. Lucas.

Accompanied by their sponsors, and other family and friends, 284 candidates and 115 catechumens declared their intent to join the Catholic Church during an afternoon ceremony primarily for those from rural parishes, and an evening ceremony for people from the Omaha area.

Catechumens, those to be baptized, confirmed and receive holy Communion, and candidates, people who are already baptized and seeking to receive the sacraments of confirmation and first Communion, proceeded to the sanctuary with their sponsors to greet the archbishop.

The ceremonies included Scripture readings, general intercessions, affirmations of the participants’ worthiness by sponsors and the community, and a homily by the archbishop.

Citing the Gospel reading about the vine and the branches, the archbishop said Jesus, in using this parable, “is talking about a very basic principle of life in this world and the next, and is proposing to us the choice between life and death.”

“He tells us very clearly that connected to him we can have life. … When connected to Jesus, our branches connected to the vine, we flourish.”

The archbishop said Jesus is offering a personal invitation to come to him, “to be incorporated into his body, the church, and to have life in him.”

And he reminded the catechumens and candidates that Jesus has called them by name, to be more than a number added to the church’s rolls, but to be his friends, and to encounter him in the Catholic Church.

Catechumens and candidates began their preparation last fall, attending regular Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) classes in their parishes.

After the Rite of Election ceremonies, which take place each year on the first Sunday of Lent, they will experience the Lenten season as a period of purification and enlightenment through study and prayer, accompanied by the prayers of their parish communities. They will be welcomed into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil at their parishes. 

As newly initiated Catholics, they will continue their formation and education through a period of catechesis called mystagogy, which generally continues until Pentecost.

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