Responding to Christ’s call, over 1,200 Prepare to Enter Into Full Communion with the Catholic Church this Easter

February 17, 2013

At the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion today, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, told those gathered that their presence at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion was a visible sign that women and men, young and old, from all walks of life, continue to respond to the invitation of Our Lord to “Come, follow me.”

This Easter, 1,233 adults, teens and children will be baptized or confirmed as Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington – the largest number of candidates and catechumens ever. The participants come from approximately 93 parishes, five university campuses and one military base chapel across the archdiocese.

At the beginning of Lent, which is the period of penance and reflection observed by Catholics leading up to the celebration of Easter, those who are being received into the Catholic Church are presented to the local bishop in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This liturgy marks the participants’ formal public expression of their desire to become Catholic and kicks off a final period of intense spiritual preparation.

The Rite is held annually at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception over two Sundays to accommodate the large number of people who participate and bring their family members to share this significant day in their spiritual life. In the last ten years, 12,368 have joined the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Washington.

Cardinal Wuerl began his homily by noting that each year, we recall important dates that give meaning to our lives. In the same way we celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and quinceñeros, the Church calls us to remember the events in our spiritual lives. He noted that one particularly special moment is taking place now, as Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to retire and the Cardinals will be convening in Rome to elect his successor.

At Easter, he said, the Catechumens and the Elect would encounter Christ in a new and sacramental way. In baptism we are introduced into the Body of Christ; in confirmation we receive an outpouring of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the new life of God within us and to give us the wisdom and understanding and courage to follow Christ in daily life; and in the Eucharist we celebrate the mystery of the death and the resurrection of Christ in a sacramental way that allows us to become a part of that reality, the Cardinal said.

“This Lent, your presence here visibly marks this stage in your spiritual journey, which all of us make with you, so that this Easter, we might all celebrate as God’s people gathered in God’s home to celebrate the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ…that for us means our pledge of new life in Christ and eternal life in glory.”

After the homily, the Catechumens and the Elect were presented to the Cardinal and approached the sanctuary where he welcomed them. At the Easter Vigil on March 30, the celebration of the sacraments of initiation will take place and the Elect will celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, while the Candidates, having already been baptized, will celebrate Confirmation and the Eucharist.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 600,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 97 Catholic schools, located in Washington, DC, and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.

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