Springtime came early to Westminster Cathedral on Sunday, as 622 people were 'sent forth' at the Rite of Election, to be prepared to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter. The candidates, (those who are already baptised) and the catechumens (those who are preparing to be baptised) were accompanied by their godparents, sponsors, catechists and clergy from all over the diocese. In his homily, Cardinal Cormac spoke of Lent as a "new Springtime in the church" ... "a time when we celebrate new people in the church and our own continuing conversion." The Cardinal pointed out that for many months the parish communities in the Diocese have been supporting those "who long and desire to be more closely joined with Jesus in the Church"... "This will become a reality for them at the Easter Vigil, when the Sacraments of initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated," he said. "Election" means call, he said. "In this rite we celebrate our calling by God. God has chosen us in Christ to 'live in love in his presence'. In a departure from previous years - during the service, candidates and their families and friends sat together in deaneries. In the past they were grouped in much larger, 'diocesan' areas. Each deanery was called by Bishop George Stack. Catechetical advisers for each deanery then called the parishes by name, and a catechist from each parish presented the Cardinal with the names of those chosen for initiation inscribed in the parish Book of the Elect. "Conducting the service in this way gave a real sense of warmth and community said Diana Klein, a diocesan catachetical advisor. "It was a very touching moment as each catechist came up. Each one was smiling. The rite is a clear reminder that the whole community of the faithful shares responsibility of new members. It serves as a focus of the commitment by the faithful to offer support during the period of enlightenment that begins with the Rite of Election." A special choir was formed for the Rite of Election. Led by Jenny Kettleton and Mary Whittle, from St Edwards in Golders Green, singers and musicians came from all over the diocese to welcome the fledging Catholics.
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