Hundreds gathered at St Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday 6 March, the first Sunday of Lent, for the annual celebration of the Rite of Election. The Rite is an official step in the journey of those preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation) at Easter.

More than 30 parishes were represented on Sunday, with the catechumens (those yet to be baptised) and candidates (those who have already been baptised but have yet to receive the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation) accompanied by their sponsors/godparents, family and fellow parishioners.

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli welcomed those gathered and encouraged them to spend extra time exploring St Patrick’s Cathedral, the mother church of the Archdiocese.

‘See something of its beautiful architecture and fine art. But most particularly, remember that this is your mother church – the mother church of our local Church, and so indeed it is your church.

Even though we gather from the various parts of our Archdiocese spread over considerable distances, here is your home.’

This year marks the 125th anniversary of the consecration of St Patrick’s Cathedral, as well as the 175th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Melbourne. With the Victorian community slowly coming back to life since the onset of the pandemic, Sunday’s gathering was a welcome sight for all.

An important step in the journey of faith

Those who wish to join the Catholic Church embark on what is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), during which they are accompanied by their local parish RCIA team and introduced to Jesus and the life discipleship through the Scriptures, Church teachings and personal testimonies.

During the Rite of Election, an important step in the RCIA journey, the candidates and catechumens are presented to the local bishop as a sign of their “election” into the Catholic community. It is at this gathering that those wishing to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation make public their intention to continue their discernment and preparation during the Season of Lent. The names of those who wish to be baptised are presented to the local bishop and then inscribed in the Book of the Elect.

The journey of discernment for these catechumens and candidates then culminates at the Easter Vigil where they receive the Sacraments of Initiation and are officially welcomed into the Catholic Church by the local parish community.

Praying over those gathered on Sunday, Archbishop Comensoli asked that the Father of love and power guide the elect of the Church, and be with those who seek to complete their initiation.

Strengthen them in their vocation, enable them to enter more fully into the reign of your Son, and seal them with the Spirit of your promise.’

‘To each one of you, may this time be blessed and full of great hope, with the light of Christ shining in you,’ said the Archbishop.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne welcomed candidates and catechumens from the following parishes at this year’s Rite of Election:

  • Immaculate Conception of Our Lady, Alexandra
  • St Bernard’s, Belmont
  • St Scholastica’s, Bennettswood
  • St Francis Xavier, Box Hill
  • St Joseph’s, Brunswick West - Brunswick & Moreland Catholic Mission
  • St Damian’s, Bundoora
  • St Benedict’s, Burwood
  • St Peter’s Clayton
  • St Peter Chanel, Deer Park
  • Our Lady of the Pines, Donvale
  • St Peter’s, Epping
  • St John the Baptist, Ferntree Gully
  • St Roch’s, Glen Iris
  • St Peter Apostle, Hoppers Crossing
  • St James the Apostle, Hoppers Crossing North
  • St Peter the Apostle, Keilor East
  • St Martin of Tours, Macleod
  • Holy Trinity, Laverton, Altona Meadows & Point Cook
  • St Anthony of Padua, Melton South
  • Christ the Light, Mernda
  • St John’s, Mitcham
  • St Anthony’s, Noble Park
  • St Bernadette’s, North Sunshine
  • St Anne & St Gerard, Park Orchards & Warrandyte
  • St Gabriel’s, Reservoir
  • St Simon the Apostle, Rowville
  • Holy Eucharist, St Albans South
  • Catholic Chinese Community, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church
  • St Christopher’s, Syndal
  • St Mary’s, Thornbury & Holy Spirit, Thornbury East
  • St Andrew’s, Werribee