Westminster Cathedral welcomes fledgling Catholics

 Nearly 700 catechumens and candidates, with their godparents, sponsors, catechists and clergy, were welcomed to Westminster Cathedral yesterday afternoon for the Rite of Election. In a moving ceremony, presided over by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and the Auxiliary Bishops of Westminster, 697 catechumens and candidates from all over the diocese came forward, to express their commitment to joining their parish communities. Cardinal Cormac said: "For many months the parish communities have been supporting those who long and desire to be more closely joined to Jesus in the Church. Today is also a day to remember for all those who have a part in bringing our catechumens and candidates to this point." Each person's faith story was different. Speaking at the end of the service, Amanda McLennan, from St Margaret's of Scotland parish in Twickenham, told ICN: "My husband is a Catholic and my children are. I think it was when my children began making their First Communions that I felt the time was right. I am feeling very happy now." Thea Montgomorie-Anderson, 26, a fitness trainer from Twickenham who is also studying to be a TV presenter, said: "I guess I had a bit of a wild time in the past. I just felt I needed to make a commitment now. It feels really good. My mother is over the moon." Although Anjelic Ewing, from West London was baptised a Catholic in India, her parents stopped practicing when she was a child. "I think faith came calling after my first child was baptised" she said. "It really brought it home to me." The parish of St Thomas of Canterbury in Fulham, brought 20 candidates and catechumens. One said: "This really feels like the start of the rest of my life. I am very excited." Catechist Jill Brudney, from St Edwards in Golders Green said her parish had brought five candidates: Manju, Felicity, Blessings, John and Fatima. She said: "We're a very sociable community with many nationalities. This is a very important day for us all." Fr Tony Convery, Dean of Hounslow said: "I found the service quite overwhelming. People were so enthusiastic. The most telling part for me was watching the different parishes process up to the altar. The liturgy was very involving and the music was powerful." The Rt Rev Alan Hopes, participating in his first Rite of Election as Bishop, said he found the view from the altar "wonderful." During this year's Easter Vigil the catechumens will receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist in their own parishes. Candidates who are already baptised will take part in the Eucharist and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.

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