Parishes to conduct Rite of Election in Kota Kinabalu

The pandemic continues to impact the way of being Church, including the way of preparation for those who desire to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church.

Feb 27, 2021

By Catherine Wan
The pandemic continues to impact the way of being Church, including the way of preparation for those who desire to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church.

Under normal circumstances, catechumens from all parishes under the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu will gather for the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent.

With the coronavirus outbreak, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) for prospective converts to Catholicism above the age of 15 has been disrupted by the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. In the light of the restrictions for social distancing, the Archdiocese has decided for individual parishes to conduct the Rite of Election for their respective catechumens locally.

As the State entered into the conditional MCO which allows for churches to be reopened, Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish held its Rite of Election for its catechumens on Feb 21, which was the first Sunday of Lent. The ritual was celebrated by Archbishop John Wong at the parish hall for the uncatechized adults who have begun their catechumenate journey since last year.

The Rite of Election or the Enrolment of Names is the liturgical rite which closes the period of the catechumenate proper, that is, the lengthy period of formation of the catechumens’ minds and hearts.

It marks the final period of more intense preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation during which the Elects are encouraged to follow Christ with greater generosity.

This step is called Election because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God in whose name the Church acts.  This step is called the Enrolment of Names because a pledge of fidelity is taken by the candidates who inscribe their names in the book that lists those who have been chosen for initiation.

Altogether there were 13 catechumens from English RCIA, nine from Chinese RCIA, 53 from Bahasa Melayu RCIA and 14 catechumens from the parish of St Paul Dontozidon who celebrated the ritual and were accompanied by their godparents. However, to maintain the SOP protocol, the BM catechumens from SHC and those of St Paul Dontozidon celebrated the Rite of Election at a different time but on the same morning. 

The Archbishop explained the reason why the ritual takes place during Lent which is the period of renewal of our life in Christ. He asked the catechumens whether they know Jesus, who has given His life for us, and have accepted Him as the Lord of their life.

From the Gospel of St Matthew (4:1-11) on the temptations of Jesus in the desert, he pointed out how Jesus countered the temptations of the devil with the Word of God, trusting God fully, worshipping and serving Him alone. He revealed that they would receive the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of Initiation, and urged them to know the Holy Spirit, in order to be guided by the Holy Spirit to do God‘s will.

Based on the testimonies of the godparents and the catechists, as well as the catechumens’ affirmation of their intention, the Church judged their state of readiness for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Therefore, the Church made her “election”, that is, the choice and admission of those catechumens who have the dispositions that make them fit to take part in the Sacraments of Initiation, that is Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

During MCO period, the RCIA facilitators have been using Zoom or Google Meet or other online platforms to keep in touch with the catechumens. They resumed their physical formation sessions after celebrating the Rite of Election.

Part of the journey to the font requires the Elect to celebrate special rites in the middle three Sundays of Lent called the Scrutinies (purification and enlightenment). These will be arranged in the respective languages on Mar 8, Mar 15 and Mar 22, and on April 3 there will be the final rite in preparation before baptism. Let us keep them in our prayers.––CS

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