Rite of Election ceremonies at cathedral last big step for those preparing for baptism, confirmation and first Communion

DETROIT — This weekend, 774 people added their own chapter to the history of God’s redeeming plan for humanity.

And while each and every one of the catechumens and candidates for full communion in the Catholic Church has his or her own journey to share, all of their stories are party of God’s greater plan, set in motion since Adam and Eve first rebelled in the Garden of Eden.

“This is an ancient rite the Church has celebrated through the centuries,” Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron told catechumens and candidates at the 2 p.m. Rite of Election service at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on March 10. “At times, there was a risk for those leaving the pagan world. But like them, it is decision made today by people making a lifetime decision to enter into the kingdom of Christ and communion with God.”

Over the weekend, 346 catechumens and 428 candidates for full communion had their names called by representatives from their parishes as they were formally presented to Archbishop Vigneron and Detroit's auxiliary bishops to be received into the Church this Easter.

Sponsors and family members pray over candidates and catechumens during Rite of Election ceremonies March 10.

Catechumens are those who will receive baptism, first holy Communion and confirmation at the Easter vigil, while candidates are those already baptized who will receive one or both of the other two sacraments of initation. 

Of the candidates, 281 were entering the Church from another faith, while 147 were returning to the Catholic Church into which they had once been baptized. Six hundred and forty-four of the candidates and catechumens are adults, while 130 are children.

During his homily, Archbishop Vigneron instructed the catechumens and candidates that they were willingly choosing to make their story part of Christ’s story in salvation history.

“The threads of your lives, the paths you have chosen, the people you’ve encountered, have led you on this journey,” Archbishop Vigneron said. “Each one of you has a story, and how we tell our stories says a lot about our history as a Church. This day, let us give thanks to God, the Holy Spirit, for the pattern or insight into your life — what we call faith — which has brought your path here.”

As the catechumens enrolled their names in the ceremonial Book of Life, and as both catechumens and candidates affirmed their intention to Archbishop Vigneron to be members of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, Archbishop Vigneron told those gathered they are now part of God’s plan to redeem the world from sin.

A young boy signs his name into the ceremonial Book of Life during Rite of Election ceremonies March 10 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“Today you confirm you want Jesus’ story to be your story,” Archbishop Vigneron said, “that we have been redeemed from the tragedy of sin. In Adam, it seemed to be irreversible. Instead of paradise, the world became a kind of hell. But in the fullness of time, God sent His only Son to be the new Adam, taking our lives and transforming us to (live in) a new paradise.”

Archbishop Vigneron encouraged the catechumens and candidates, their sponsors and all in attendance to use the Lenten season for a time of prayer and reflection and to ask what it really means to make Jesus the center of one’s life. The archbishop asked them to reflect on what the faithful will celebrate this Easter: the victory over sin that Jesus accomplishes with his resurrection from the grace. 

“Today, we do a sort of 'Church trash talk,’” Archbishop Vigneron said, referencing the service’s opening hymn. “‘Death, where is your victory?’ We sing some trash talk today. ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? Where is your victory, Death? Whom shall I fear?’ We are taunting death with the resurrection of Christ.

“We are saying Jesus is our captain, and you’re part of the fight against evil,” Archbishop Vigneron continued. “You want Him for your captain, because apart from Him, there is no victory, just tragic conclusions.”

For the catechumens and candidates, the Rite of Election is another step on the journey to the Lord’s table as the Church begins the Lenten season.

Glynis Malay of St. Anastasia Parish in Troy will be confirmed and receive her first Communion at the Easter vigil.

Archbishop Vigneron greets candidates at catechumens after the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

“I started coming to Catholic Mass with my now husband (Ludvico) and loved the feeling of being home and the support of other people at the church,” Malay told Detroit Catholic. “Entering the Church feels like coming back to having Christ in our life and the center of our marriage.”

Malay said since taking RCIA classes, she feels Christ now more present in her marriage, and her prayer life seems more powerful and meaningful. But it is the Eucharist she desires the most this Easter.

“Growing up in the Protestant church, communion just had different symbolism. Here it is more meaningful to me, and that has been shown through the Mass, and I’m really excited, the most looking forward to, partaking in the Eucharist,” Malay said.

“This is something we can do together,” Malay continued. “We have a marriage that is based in faith and have Christ to rely on for strength in our marriage.”

Others about to enter the Church were drawn to the faith by the thousands of years of tradition and rituals that have been handed down.

“Last year, a friend of mine was going through RCIA, so I went a couple of times and it really interested me,” said Jozie Schorsch of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights, who will be baptized, confirmed and receive first Communion this Easter. “My interest piqued when it just hit me how much you should do for the Lord, because of how much He does for you.”

Schorsch said going to Mass weekly and learning about the Church’s teachings on sin brought a sense of order in his life that left him fulfilled.

“Before I started going to RCIA, I just thought, ‘Yeah, I believe in God,’ but then I’d just go on with my day,” Schorsch said. “But learning about the need to go to church, to show you are there for the Lord, and He is there for you, I could see myself growing in faith a lot, changing with the people around me. I see what happens when I make a commitment to follow the traditions of the faith, seeing how much the Eucharist would enrich my life. It is what I’m most looking forward do, fulfilling my obligations to God.”

Altar servers carry the crucifix during the recessional hymn at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament during Rite of Election ceremonies March 10.