Bishop Mark presided at the Rite of Election on February 18 — the First Sunday of Lent — at Saint John Gualbert Cathedral in Johnstown and the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Altoona. The Bishop formally welcomed candidates and catechumens seeking initiation in the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.
Catechumens, accompanied by their sponsors, are seeking Baptism. As God has chosen them, they signed their names in the Book of the Elect, also called the Book of Life. Their presence at the Rite of Election is a public recognition of their “yes” to live their new life in God within the Catholic Church.
Candidates, accompanied by their sponsors, are already baptized. They are seeking to enter full communion and to be fully initiated members in the Catholic Church. They celebrated the Rite of the Call to Continuing Conversion. Candidates, by virtue of their baptism, already have their names in the Book of Life, and received special recognition and a blessing from the Bishop.
“I welcome all of you this evening to this joyful occasion which we come together in prayer by the power of the Holy Spirit to give witness to the growing faith in our Church,” said Bishop Mark. “For all of here, conversion is an essential part of being a disciple and follower of Jesus. All of us has to work at that every day of our lives, and what a wonderful time for us to celebrate that this evening.”
“I’ve been waiting for this for quite a long time; I’m one more step closer to being baptized,” said Wanda Rimmer, a catechumen from Saint Matthew Parish in Tyrone after the ritual. “I do feel God with me, I’ve always felt him with me, and I really feel him with me now, and I feel very much at peace.” [Photo: Wanda Rimmer (right), pictured with her sponsor, Mary Ellen Jones.]
“I’ve been looking at the Catholic Church for three years now, and it’s finally coming to fruition of me converting,” added candidate Hailey Ritchey of Saint Francis Xavier Parish in Cresson. “It’s just a lot of emotion. I’m so happy that it’s finally happening. It finally feels like I’ve completed what was meant for me.” [Hailey Ritchey (left) posing with her sponsor, Amy Kanich.]