Rite of Election ceremonies scheduled

Many hundreds of potential Catholics will make their way to churches around the state to make an important step in the Rite of Christian Initiation, Feb. 19-22.

Catechumens for the Rite of Election and candidates for the Call to Continuing Conversion will take place in all four deaneries this year with the addition of a ceremony in the Pee Dee region. Until now, some catechumenates and candidates in the northeastern part of South Carolina have had to celebrate their rites in Columbia or Charleston.

The schedule is:

Piedmont Deanery: St. Mary Magdalene Church, Simpsonville, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19.

Midlands Deanery: St. Peter Church, Columbia, 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 20.

Coastal Deanery: Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 21.

Pee Dee Deanery: St. Michael Church, Garden City, 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22.

Bishop David B. Thompson will preside over each celebration.

The Rite of Election is the third stage of the conversion process for people who have not been baptized in another faith. Inquiry is the initial step followed by the catechumenate phase where a person is educated and introduced to parish life. Full communion with the church takes place during Easter. The Call to Continuing Conversion is for people who have been baptized in another Christian faith and are converting to Catholicism.

During the ceremony, catechumens and candidates are presented and called forth by their parish representatives. Bishop Thompson asks them about their intent.

“This is the Bishop’s formal recognition of their journey,” said Paul Schroeder, diocesan director of catechesis and evangelization. The Bishop then asks the sponsors to continue support of their candidates and catechumens until the Easter Vigil. Candidates will sign the Book of the Elect at the celebration while the catechumens participate in the Call to Continuing Conversion.

Schroeder said last year’s numbers at the Rite of Election were between 500-600 people. This year, the numbers are lower, but Schroeder said the Pee Dee has seen an increase. The Piedmont has 32 catechumens and 62 candidates; the Midlands has 19 catechumens and 73 candidates; Coastal deanery numbers are 46 catechumens and 123 candidates; while the Pee Dee has 14 catechumens and 36 candidates.