Hundreds of people are one step closer to entering the Church after the Rite of Election and Continuing Conversion held around the state during the first weekend of Lent.
Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone celebrated the rite in four separate locations: March 3 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Simpsonville, March 4 at St. Joseph Church in Columbia, March 5 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, and March 6 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in North Myrtle Beach.
This year, 477 people took part in the event, according to figures compiled by Michael Martocchio, director of the diocesan Office of Catechesis and Christian Initiation. There were 317 candidates and 160 catechumens, with the largest number of participants coming to the Cathedral from the Charleston and Beaufort deaneries on March 5.
The ceremony involves catechumens and candidates who plan to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. On that day, catechumens receive the sacraments of baptism, holy Communion and confirmation, while candidates are confirmed and receive the Eucharist.
At the Rite of Election, catechumens sign the Book of the Elect, a public acknowledgement of their commitment to join the Church. Candidates receive a blessing.
David Dobay, a catechumen from Garden City, started on his faith journey after he was seriously wounded while serving with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan in 2011.
A native of Ohio, he moved to the Grand Strand area a few years ago because his fiancée, who is Catholic, and her family are from the area. He said her family, including a cousin who is a priest serving with the National Guard, helped him on his spiritual quest. He decided to join the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults program at St. Michael Church in Murrells Inlet.
“Learning about Catholicism from them helped to guide me in what I was searching for, and learning about the faith has now helped me to understand why I made it through what happened to me,” Dobay said.
“I came to RCIA later in life, after going back and forth all my life about being a believer. I found I loved the theology of the Church, the ritual and the sacrament. I’m really looking forward to finally joining the Church and being able to receive communion,” he said.
David Merry, a candidate from St. Michael, had a long spiritual search that eventually led him to attend a church in California that was part of the Anglican Ordinariate.
“I learned that the only church that really has maintained its unity of spirit and purpose over the centuries was the Catholic Church,” he said.
Merry said taking part in the Rite of Election was important because he was able to share the moment with people who have been beside him on the journey to becoming Catholic.
“The whole process of RCIA has been open and welcoming because we support one another and learn from each other’s experiences,” Merry said. “The shared experience of the Rite of Election is a special thing.”
Top photo, Miscellany/Doug Deas: William Spencer, a catechumen from St. Francis by the Sea Church on Hilton Head Island, signs the Book of the Elect at the Rite of Election held March 5 at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston while his sponsor, Angie Spencer, and Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone observe.
Watch the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PU6q0Gr9-Kc&feature=youtu.be