By Gregory R. Warrier
In the Penang Island Deanery and Northern Deanery, a total of 129 catechumens who are following the RCIA programme took their final step towards the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, as they presented themselves before Bishop Sebastian Francis at the Rite of Election during the 3.00pm Mass on Saturday March 9 at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit. Concelebrating with His Lordship were Msgr Aloysius Tan, Fr Jude Miranda, Fr Martin Arlando, Fr Arul Mariadass OFM, Fr Leo Elias and Fr Joachim Robert.
At the beginning of the Mass, Bishop Sebastian welcomed all the catechumens who had heard the call of God and had elected to enrol as candidates for baptism. He said that he would like to baptise each and every one of them personally but that would not be possible. Instead, he felt privileged have the personal encounter with them at the Rite of Election.
In his homily, which he delivered in English, Bahasa and Tamil with a translation in Mandarin, His Lordship linked the journey of the catechumens in the RCIA to Moses and his people, (Deuteronomy 26:4-10) “You too may have been wandering and facing many challenges in life. Today, you enter the realm of the Elect and, eventually, and become part of the community. God saw the stirrings of your heart. God knows your cry for liberation in the body of Christ which is the Church. Yes, God will bring you to the land of milk and honey, the Church. You don’t have to wait until heaven.”
After the Liturgy of the Word, the Rite of Election/Enrolment of Names took place. This was followed by the Act of Admission, when the Bishop declared the catechumens as “members of the Elect, to be initiated into the Sacred Mysteries at the forthcoming Easter Vigil.”
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Sebastian thanked and praised God for all the catechumens who will be baptised this Easter. “You are bringing the missionary dimension of the Church alive, especially in this Extraordinary Missionary Year. Thank you for responding with an open mind and heart to the call of Jesus Christ. You will be sent on a mission after your baptism.” He also thanked the people who had brought them to the Church and their parents who brought them up.”
A total of 233 adult Elect will be entering the Church in the Penang Diocese this year.