Archbishop Nicholas Chia receives the Book of Elect from Father Erbin Fernandez. Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – As Catholics go through Lent to prepare for Easter, 1,247 non-Catholics have been preparing themselves to received the Sacraments of Initiation for a year or more.

The past two weekends saw the Rite of Election held Feb 20 at Church of Divine Mercy for City and East District parishes, and Feb 21 at Church of St. Anthony for North, Serangoon, and West District parishes.

The Mandarin Rite of Election was celebrated Feb 28 at Church of St. Francis of Assisi.

The names of 1,146 catechumens (non-Christians seeking baptism) and 101 candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Church) have been enrolled in the Book of Elect which was presented to Archbishop Nicholas Chia. These figures include those from the Mandarin-speaking community. They are now known as the Elect.

Addressing the catechumens and candidates during the homily before the Rite of Election, Archbishop Chia said that “Christ has chosen you”.

“You are no longer your own. Heed the words of the Lord in the scripture. Put on the mind of Christ and abandon yourself to the universal Church,” he added.

Archbishop Chia also asked the catechumens and candidates to “follow the signs and prayers that will speak directly to your heart through your senses” via the Book of the Gospel, the community, the Book of the Elect, the Greeting of the Elect and the Liturgy of the Eucharist so as to “discern readiness to pass into next stage of the journey”.

The elect shared their joy with CatholicNews at the end of the Mass.

Justin Han, 21, said: “It was quite a special event obviously for us to first all be known and [then] to be inducted into the Catholic family.”

Former Anglican Terence Lim, 39, said that the experience at the Rite of Election was like “coming home to the Church that Christ built”.

“I feel the true presence of the Lord especially at His table, and I feel that I’m in a much bigger family, in a much more vibrant community,” he added.

Jacqueline Kang, 43, said she was moved to tears. Initially, she felt emotionless, but on returning to her seat after greeting the archbishop, she “felt something is wrong somewhere with me” and “felt something come into me”.

“While everyone was sitting down, I just feel my knees go soft, so I knelt down and pray. And the Holy Spirit helped me to pray,” Ms Kang said. “I started to burst into tears. I couldn’t control it. I felt the emptiness in my heart has been filled.”

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More report and pictures on pages 10 and 11.

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 of Election provides an opportunity for these names to be formally enrolled among God’s chosen people.

The Elect’s faith journey began one to two years ago after being enrolled in the various parishes’ RCIA programmes.

They will be undergoing three Scrutinies during the Lenten season to help them examine their lives for temptation, for the community to pray that the elect be freed from temptations and be protected as they continue their journey towards baptism.

By Darren Boon

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