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More than 300 prepare to enter Catholic faith at the Easter Vigil

new 01 3.9.17_rite.coverBook bearers carrying the Book of the Elect for their respective parishes lead the Rite of Election procession March 5 at St. Mary’s Cathedral. (Photo by Dennis Callahan/Catholic San Francisco)

March 9, 2017
Tom Burke

The Rite of Election, a step in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral March 5 in an afternoon prayer service with Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone presiding. More than 1,300 people were in the assembly.

An estimated 150 catechumens, men and women who will receive all three sacraments of initiation – baptism, Eucharist and confirmation – at the Easter Vigil, became the elect at this annual liturgy. Another almost 200 people in RCIA programs, already baptized Christians coming into full communion with the Catholic Church and known as candidates, were recognized in a Rite of Welcome. Candidates make a profession of faith to the Catholic Church, are confirmed and receive first Eucharist, also at the Easter Vigil.

The liturgy was bilingual in English and Spanish. The catechumens and candidates represented more than 40 parishes in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone asked that the catechumens and candidates be warmly welcomed to the “faith that Christ calls to be a light.”

The Rite of Election always takes place on the First Sunday of Lent at the cathedral and celebrates the acceptance of the archbishop of those who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church at Easter into the order of the elect – meaning they have his permission to be baptized. The rite includes the elect coming forward with a godparent and signing their parish Book of Elect whose pages sometimes go back decades showing all who have become Catholic through that parish.

As Lent further unfolds the elect will go through a series of rituals called scrutinies in which they evaluate their desire to become Catholic and are prayed over by the pastor and community. They continue their formation classes in a more intense way as Easter nears. At the Easter Vigil, both the elect and the candidates for full communion receive the proper sacraments and are fully Catholic.

Catholic San Francisco talked to candidate Karen Perry and catechumens Joanne Annuzzi and Gale Stafford before the service.

Perry will come into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Burlingame. Perry, 57, was baptized into the Covenant Faith Church later joining a Baptist congregation. Perry said she has been inspired to join the Catholic Church by the Catholic faith of her husband, Brian, and most recently by the dedicated Catholic faith of family members in North Carolina. Perry looks forward to “growing in faith and learning more about the mysteries of the Catholic Church.”

Annuzzi is a catechumen who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil at St. Peter Church, Pacifica. Annuzzi, 66, said she has been “surrounded by Catholicism all my life” and thought the faith to be always part of her life as now it will be in truth. “I am so happy to have people around me that I am now at one with.” Joanne’s husband Jack is Catholic. Annuzzi’s sponsors are Maria Sierra-Bell and Vivian Queirolo.

Stafford is a catechumen who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil at Our Lady of Angels Church, Burlingame. He said he was drawn to the Catholic faith by his wife, Ana, who “was raised in the faith in Venezuela and the example of Capuchin St. Padre Pio.” Ana is Stafford’s sponsor. Stafford, 43, looks forward with his wife to “going deeper into the faith, doing retreats at Mercy Center and to keep going with it.”

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