REGINA — Each of the 68 catechumens was called by name as they took part in the Rite of Election, which leads to baptism, confirmation and first eucharist and full membership in the Roman Catholic Church. It was the largest group of catechumens anyone could remember.
“Some want to stay in Catholic schools,” said Marion Grady, a member of the Regina Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission. “For others it was family related, and for some it was because they had married into a Catholic family. There are about 15 children, but the rest are adults. It’s really quite amazing.”
Kahla Rieger, a Grade 10 student at Miller Catholic High School, explained her decision to join the church: “I like the environment in my school and they encouraged me to go to a Catholic church.”
“And she asked me to accompany her,” added her mother, Angela Rieger.
The recent court decision that ruled the government could not pay for non-Catholic students to attend Catholic schools was instrumental in some of the catechumens’ decisions. At the time of the decision it was feared that non-Catholic students would have to leave the Catholic school they were attending, and that possibility was not well received.
Other catechumens’ reasons for joining the church were similar to those of Jennifer Schmalenberg, whose husband and his whole family are Catholic. “Our kids go to St. Gabriel Catholic School. They were starting to ask questions that I couldn’t answer, so I thought I’d better take the next step, and here I am.”
Archbishop Donald Bolen welcomed the catechumens, saying that “today is a day that fills the diocesan church with great joy.” There are other important events in the life of the church, he said, “but everything begins with baptism.”
The ceremony began with catechists from each parish coming to the lectern with the parish Book of Elect and calling out the name of each catechumen, along with their godparents. Each group was then ushered into the sanctuary, where they sign the Book of Elect, which was subsequently presented to the archbishop for his signature.
Bolen called for a moment of silent prayer once the catechumens and their sponsors had returned to the pews. This was followed by the Act of Election, in which catechumens and godparents responded to Bolen’s questions regarding their intent to join the Catholic faith.
Following this, the archbishop addressed the congregation (see related article, this page).
The Rite of Election is the final step in the process leading to the catechumens’ accepting the sacraments of initiation in their journey into the Catholic Church — a journey which began with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a course of study comprising 17 sessions weekly, usually beginning in October. The Rite of Election follows the RCIA process, and is normally held on the first Sunday of Lent.