Springtime came early to Westminster Cathedral on Sunday afternoon, as 648 people were 'sent forth' at the Rite of Election, to be prepared to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter. The numbers are about the same as last year. More than 1,600 people attended the service. The 328 candidates, (those who are already baptised) and 316 catechumens (those who are preparing to be baptised) were accompanied by their godparents, sponsors, catechists, clergy, friends and families from all over the diocese. The celebration was lead by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor with the Auxiliary Bishops: Rt Rev James O'Brien, Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Rt Rev Bernard Longley and Rt Rev George Stack. The Gospel was read by Deacon Michael Dunne from Chiswick parish. Anthony Clarke Westminster's director of Lifelong Learning and Catechesis told ICN that in a break with previous years, the Deans read out names of parishes, and all the candidates and catechumens came forward to be welcomed by Cardinal Cormac. The Cardinal said he had never shaken hands with so many people and hoped there would be more next year. A choir, lead by Jenny Kettleton and Mary Whittle, from St Edwards church in Golders Green, with singers and musicians from all over the diocese, welcomed the fledging Catholics. The service was filmed by the At Your Word team, in preparation for the Third season of the diocesan renewal programme which focusses on evangelisation.
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