Archbishop Goh poses this question to those who will become new Catholics this Easter

Catechumens writing their names in the Book of the Elect at the Church of the Transfiguration on Feb 24, as their godparents place a hand on their shoulder.

By Christopher Khoo

“The time has come for you to make your own conclusion about Jesus. Who is Jesus? Who is He for you?”
Archbishop William Goh was speaking to 411 catechumens and candidates at the Rite of Election on Feb 24 at the Church of the Transfiguration.

It is “a question you must answer from the depth of your heart,” he told the 376 catechumens (non-Christians seeking baptism) and 35 candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church).

“No one is ready for baptism,” said Archbishop Goh, unless he makes the same declaration that St Peter did – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” – and from his heart.

“Anything short of this profession won’t make you a Christian,” he said, adding that “we pray for all of you that the Lord will strengthen your hearts and your faith during this season of Lent, that you will continue to deepen your encounter with Jesus”.

Another Rite of Election was held the next day at the Church of St Ignatius for 416 catechumens and 64 candidates, a total of 480.

During the service at the Church of the Transfiguration, Archbishop Goh noted that the number of new Catholics this Easter, based on these two Rite of Election services alone, would be 891.

There are about 383,000 Catholics in Singapore right now, he said, and urged Catholics to do more to help people know Christ.

“Evangelise one person. Bring him to church,” he said.

Archbishop Goh holding up the Book of the Elect.

His message was echoed by assistant catechetical director Fr Terence Kesavan.

Addressing those who will become Catholics this Easter, he said that just as someone had reached out to them and invited them to church, so they too “have a mission … to share the Good News”.

He urged them to invite people to attend the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

The Rite of Election on both days saw catechumens writing their names in the Book of the Elect, which was in the form of a long scroll. Godparents placed a hand on the catechumens’ shoulder as they wrote their names.

The Book of the Elect was then presented to Archbishop Goh.

The candidates also 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.

Young catechumens writing their names in the Book of the Elect at the Church of St Ignatius on Feb 25. VITA Images

Catholic News spoke to some of the Elect, as the catechumens are now called, after the Feb 24 service.

Mr Andrew Tan, 39, from the Church of the Holy Family, shared that “today I feel at peace … I think I’m prepared for baptism”.

He said he realises that his spiritual journey won’t be easy “because I have to change the way I deal with people, how I live my life. In the past one year, I think I’ve changed quite a lot.”

Mr Dominic Halim, an Indonesian from the same parish, said he found the Rite of Election “moving”, adding that “it deepened my faith”.

He shared that he feels excited about getting baptised at the Easter Vigil, noting that “it’s been a long journey” for him.

Mr Robin Fong, 44, a candidate from the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said the Lord sparked his interest in the Catholic faith about two years ago and he decided to learn more about it.

He added that he looked forward to being able to receive the Eucharist as a Catholic.

Mr Andrew Tan, an Elect from Holy Family Church: ‘In the past one year, I think I’ve changed quite a lot.’

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 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.

A Chinese Rite of Election was held at St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) on March 4 for 127 catechumens and five candidates. This would bring the total number of people entering the Catholic Church this Easter to 1,023. 

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