Catechetical director Fr Erbin Fernandez holds up the Book of the Elect during the Rite of Election held at Blessed Sacrament Church on Feb 25.

Close to 1,000 people are expected to join the Catholic Church in Singapore this Easter.

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

The names of 900 catechumens (non-Christians seeking baptism) and 70 candidates (baptised Christians seeking full communion with the Church) have been enrolled in the Book of Elect and 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.

“The figures are the prerogative of God’s invitation,” said RCIA coordinator Jarvis Tan.

“It is He who always chooses and takes the initiative to claim a person as His own. The emphasis for the RCIA has always been to respond faithfully and responsibly to God by apprenticing those whom He sends our way into the fullness of Christian living, to enable them to carry out the mission of the entire people of God in the Church and in the world as disciples of Jesus Christ.”

One Rite of Election was held on Feb 25 at Blessed Sacrament Church for the City and West Districts, and another on Feb 26 at the Church of the Holy Spirit for the East, North and Serangoon Districts. The Mandarin Rite of Election was scheduled to be held at Church of St Michael on March 4.

At the Rite of Election in English, Archbishop Nicholas Chia said the occasion is a celebration of the catechumens and candidates’ response to God’s call as well as the start of their “final test” – not a test of knowledge but a test of “surrender and mission”.

By “giving your name to God”, the catechumens are “signed up by God” to do “the work of Christ on earth”, “to make the Kingdom visible” and that “now is the day of salvation”, Archbishop Chia added.

Through baptism, the catechumens will die to their old selves. They will then be able “to feed on God’s word when the false gods of life starve you…turn the other cheek when others curse you [and] be able to confess the kingdom of God, not for your own sake but for the sake of the poor”, Archbishop Chia continued.

He also said that God’s word will continue to nourish them, and also challenge them.

He then urged catechumens and candidates not to follow the norms of the world, but to “be Christ for others”.

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 their 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. 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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