Archbishop Nicholas Chia receiving the Book of the Elect from Fr Erbin Fernandez, archdiocesan Catechetical Office director, at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

More than 900 people are set to join the local Church at Easter.

They have prepared themselves to receive the Sacraments of Initiation for a year or more after joining the various parishes’ RCIA or RCIY (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults/Youths) programmes.

The names of 868 catechumens (non-Christians seeking baptism) and 76 candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Church) have been enrolled in the Book of Elect and will be presented to Archbishop Nicholas Chia at the Rite of Election over two weekends. These figures are the latest at press time and include those from the Mandarin-speaking community.

One Rite of Election was held on March 12 at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the City, Serangoon and West Districts, and another on March 13 at the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea for the East and North Districts.

The Mandarin Rite of Election is scheduled for March 20 at the Church of St Bernadette.

Addressing those preparing to enter the Church, Archbishop Chia said Lent “calls us to a springtime within ourselves … another chance to get it right, another chance to grow, another chance to remember what we are about”.

He urged them to “run on steadily in the race” and commit themselves to “this period of purification so that you may enter God’s household of faith filled with joy and confidence”.

The archbishop reminded the catechumens to be familiar with the Word of God, to “wage your own battle against the evil tendencies in your heart” and not to let the evil one succeed in planting doubts about God’s love for them.

Archbishop Chia also encouraged the catechumens to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Just as doors have been opened to you, open the door to others as God will call others through you, Archbishop Chia exhorted the catechumens.

He also assured them of the Catholic community’s prayers for them.

To the baptised community, Archbishop Chia said, “May you continue to inspire them [the Elect] to works of charity and justice. May you open your homes to them and form Christian communities in your neighbourhoods”. He urged these communities to be like leaven that “generates communion with persons from all walks of life”.

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 these names to be formally enrolled among God’s chosen people.

The Elect will also undergo a set of rites, called Scrutinies, during the Lenten season to help them examine their lives while the community will 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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