“I feel really empowered and embraced by God. He chose me,” shared Ms Anastasia Wendy Ng, 41, from the Church of the Risen Christ.
Mr Roger Loh, 56, from the Church of St Vincent de Paul, said that “it is a very big milestone for me and also a time to reflect on my faith journey so far.”
These were the feelings that some people, preparing to become Catholics this Easter, shared following their recent Rite of Election at the Church of Christ the King on Feb 13.
There were 498 catechumens (non-Christians seeking Baptism) and 68 candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church) at the Rite of Election at the Church of Christ the King.
The following day at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, there were 393 catechumens and 33 candidates.
A Chinese Rite of Election was also held on Feb 21 at the Church of the Holy Trinity with 133 catechumens and two candidates.
This would bring the total number of people entering the Catholic Church this Easter to 1127.
The Rite of Election on Feb 13 and 14 saw the catechumens writing their names in the Book of Elect, which was in the form of a long scroll. Each person’s godparent placed a hand on his or her shoulder while they were writing their names.
The candidates also joined in the service and participated in a rite called the Call to Continuing Conversion in which they were urged to hear the Lord’s call to conversion and be faithful to their baptismal covenant.
In his homily during the service held on Feb 13, Archbishop William Goh reminded the catechumens that the “decision [to receive the Sacrament of Baptism] you make for Christ will change your life totally”.
“Will you make Jesus your Lord and Saviour?” he asked.
Archbishop Goh told the catechumens that “you must be convinced that the Lord has loved and therefore chosen you.”
Noting that the temptations facing the catechumens would be similar to that faced by Jesus in the desert, Archbishop Goh called on the sponsors to “continue to journey with them, even after baptism.”
Speaking at the end of the service, Archbishop Goh noted that the English Rite of Election last year had a total of “847 catechumens and candidates”.
This year for the English Rite of Election, “we have 992 in total, which means a 17 percent increase,” said Archbishop Goh to the applause of many in the congregation.
However, he said that the increase “can be better” and that “we need to work harder”.
“It is not just about the numbers. Spreading the message of the good news is ultimately a work of love, a work of mercy,” he said.
At the Rite of Election last year, Archbishop Goh said he wanted to see “a minimum of 5,000 catechumens a year in eight years’ time, and 15,000 in 17 years’ time.”
Fr Erbin Fernandez, catechetical director of the Office for Catechesis (OFC), told CatholicNews that “through our courses, workshops and formation sessions, we are encouraging catechetical groups to come together to pray as communities as well as to work with others in the parish in the areas of evangelisation and discipleship.”
The Rite of Election refers to an understanding that God continues to choose people through the covenant of baptism, just as He established a covenant with Israel. The rite provides an opportunity for the catechumens to be formally enrolled among God’s chosen people.
The Elect, as the catechumens are now called, will undergo the rite of Scrutinies during the Lenten season to help them examine their lives. The community will also pray that the Elect be freed from temptations and be protected as they continue their journey towards baptism.
By Jared Ng