From the Pastor – February 28, 2009

This week we celebrate the “Rite of Election” when the new catechumens will be inscribed in the “Book of the Elect.” In the early Church, the word  “Catechumen” was the name applied to those who had not yet been initiated into the sacraments, but who were undergoing a course of preparation for that purpose. The word can be found in Galatians 6:6: “Let him that is instructed (katechoumenos, the “catechumen”) in the word, communicate to him that instructs him [the (katechounti, the “catechist”) in all good things.” Other parts of the verb “to catechize” occur in 1 Corinthians 14:19; Luke 1:4; and Acts 18:24.  Since the acceptance of Christianity involved belief in a body of doctrine and the observance of the Divine law  (“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:20), some sort of preliminary instruction must have been given to the converts depending upon whether they were Jews or pagans. As the Church grew, this instruction and process became longer and more elaborate.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (often abbreviated RCIA) is the current process through which interested adults are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life. It is a communal process and involves a number of stages punctuated by liturgical rites to aid and assist the potential convert toward the final rite, usually at the Easter Vigil at which time they will become fully incorporated into the Roman Catholic Church. The entire process takes several months, but participants are generally invited to proceed at a pace which suits them individually. There are two names given to those preparing to be fully received into the Church: “catechumens” (those who are not yet baptized) and “candidates” (those who are baptized but have not received the other Sacraments of Initiation, including Holy Communion and Confirmation).

Today we recognize all of those preparing to be fully incorporated into the Church at Good Shepherd Parish.  Matthew Finnell, Jeanne Hoeltzel and Brian Hopkins are our candidates; and Lorie Gandy and Wanda Stamps are our catechmens. Please take the time to personally welcome our candidates and catechumens as they prepare to enter into full communion with the Church on Easter Sunday!