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For over 300 adult-aged people in the Diocese, signing their name will soon be an important milestone on their journey to becoming a fully initiated Catholic.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which is the catechetical, liturgical, and pastoral process of bringing unbaptized adults or older children as members of the Church, has several periods and stages that an inquirer must journey through before they receive their Sacraments. One of the significant stages, the Rite of Election will be celebrated in all six Vicariates Feb 10-11.

“There’s this whole process of movement as a journey of faith, it’s a true journey of faith,” said Karina Gomez, Vicariate Coordinator for the Diocesan Office of Catechetical Ministry. “The beauty of our Church is that it’s a process, it’s a journey.”

This year the High Desert Vicariate will hold the Rite of Election on Feb 10 at 9:30 am at Holy Family Parish in Hesperia. The San Bernardino and West End Vicariates will hold the Rite of Election on Feb 10 at 1:30 pm at Sacred Heart Church in Rancho Cucamonga. The next day, the Low Desert Vicariate holds the Rite of Election the following day at 3 pm at St. Theresa Church in Palm Springs. Lastly, the Hemet and Riverside Vicariates will host the Rite of Election on Feb 11 at 7pm at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Riverside.

The symbolic act during the Rite of Election is for each catechumen to sign the Book of the Elect. But there are many steps beforehand that lead to that moment.

The first period is called Evangelization and Pre-Catechumenate or Inquiry, where God touches the heart and draws the person to seek to know him through Jesus Christ. Then from there, the inquirer moves to the Rite of Acceptance, which is the ritualization of the inquirers’ movement from being observers and questioners to being publicly declared and recognized as among those in preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation. After the Rite of Acceptance is the Catechumenate period, a time of formation through catechumens, experience and participation in the apostolic life of the Church.

After this period is the Rite of Sending, which is when the parish priest and community declare the catechumen ready to be judged by the bishop.

“It’s beautiful because this means you have been formed here in our community, you have been affirmed by a catechetical team and godparents, who are journeying with them, affirm that, ‘yes, you are ready.’ Then we pray for you as a community, and we send you to the bishop for the Rite of Election.”

Then the catechumens move into the Rite of Election, where Bishop Alberto Rojas will judge the readiness of the catechumens for initiation and declare that they are chosen for sacraments at the Easter Vigil. During the Rite of Election, catechumens sign the Book of the Elect, which becomes a sign of the desire to enter fully into the life of the Church through the Easter Sacraments.

Once the catechumens become members of the Elect, they join the Lenten journey and go through a period of Purification and Enlightenment, where there is more intense spiritual preparation and reflection intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect, coinciding with Renewal of Baptismal Promises and Penance during Lent.

“It is during Lent that they go into deeper reflection and it’s a period of deep movement,” Gomez said.

Then at Easter Vigil, the elect receive their Sacraments of Initiation, where they are baptized, confirmed and receive the Holy Eucharist, becoming fully initiated into the Church.

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the BYTE.