Diocese of Salt Lake City

Diocese celebrates Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion

Posted on February 22, 2024 in: Diocese of Salt Lake City

Diocese celebrates Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion


SALT LAKE CITY — The annual Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion brought hundreds of people to the Cathedral of the Madeleine on Feb. 17 as the men, women and children who intend to become full members of the Catholic Church at Easter undertook one of their final steps in the process.

In two ceremonies to accommodate the 142 candidates and 556 catechumens from the five deaneries of the diocese, Bishop Oscar A. Solis welcomed them, their friends, families and godparents to the Cathedral of the Madeleine. 
Catechumens are those who have not been baptized; candidates are those who have been baptized but have not received all the Sacraments of Initiation.

Bishop Solis presided at both the morning and afternoon celebrations on Feb. 17. Attending were the Very Rev. Martin Diaz, the cathedral rector; Father Christopher Gray, pastor of Saint Mary of the Assumption Parish in Park City; Father Dominic Sternhagen, pastor of Saint Ann Parish in Salt Lake City; and Father Jaya Kumar Penugonda, parochial vicar of the cathedral. Deacon Guillermo Mendez assisted. 

Students from Juan Diego and St. Joseph Catholic high schools acted as ushers during the celebration. The music ministry was offered by students from The Madeleine Choir School.

During the Rite of Election, those who are preparing for baptism at the Easter Vigil signify their readiness for the sacraments. Those who are already baptized but have not yet completed their Christian initiation are called to greater conversion during the Lenten season. 

At both ceremonies, Bishop Solis spoke in both English and Spanish as he greeted everyone by saying that it was “with great joy we gather today to welcome men, women and youth from all over the diocese in a new relationship with the Church.” 

During his homily, Bishop Solis expressed his joy at seeing all the people gathered for the celebration in the cathedral, the mother church of the Diocese of Salt Lake City. “I’m so happy to see you as one whole faith community,” he said.
The Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion is an invitation from God, he said. “It is a call and a choice to a loving relationship and special union with him. Our Lord has led you to this time and place where you officially present your decision to enter into the community of faith we call the Catholic Church and the Body of Christ. Your election is a gracious gift from God and you all offered a generous response to that gift. Thank you for making that decision.”

Emphasizing that the day was an exciting moment for the Catholic Church in Utah, Bishop Solis said that the presence of the catechumens and candidates was the manifestation “of the presence of God in our midst. … The Catholic faith continues to grow in the state of Utah.” 

He asked the candidates and catechumens to remember that their “Yes” during the rite meant “a conversion of your hearts to Jesus as our Lord,” and that it was also an agreement to be a true disciple of Christ. He then congratulated each one “on this important day of your life but as well in the life of our Catholic Church in the Diocese of Salt Lake City.” 

After the bishop’s homily, Lorena Needham, director of the diocesan Office of Worship, continued the rite by stating that the candidates and catechumens had completed the necessary preparation to that point, and requested that the bishop allow them to participate in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. Then the sponsors and godparents affirmed that the catechumens have faithfully listened to God’s Word proclaimed by the Church.

Following the proscribed rite, Bishop Solis asked the godparents whether the catechumens have “faithfully listened to God’s word proclaimed by the Church?” “Have they responded to that Word and begun to walk in God’s presence?” and “Have they shared the company of their Christian sisters and brothers and joined with them in prayer?”

To each question, the response was, “They have.”

The bishop then asked the assembly whether they were “ready to support the testimony expressed about these catechumens and include them in your prayer and affection as we move toward Easter?”

The response was, “We are.”

Addressing the catechumens, the bishop asked whether they wished “to enter fully into the life of the Church through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.”

Each responded, “I do.”  

The catechumens wrote their names in their parish’s Book of the Elect. These books were presented to Bishop Solis. 
At the end of the Rite of Election, Bishop Solis declared the catechumens to be members of the Elect.

During the Call to Continuing Conversion, Needham presented to Bishop Solis the candidates who wish to complete their Christian initiation through the Sacrament of Confirmation and the Sacrament of Eucharist.  

The sponsors affirmed that the candidates were ready for the call, having advanced in a life of love and service to others, among other responsibilities. The godparents and sponsors also affirmed that they would include the candidates in their prayers and affection as they move toward Easter. 

Addressing the candidates, Bishop Solis said the Church recognized their desire to have a place at the Eucharistic table, and instructed them to be faithful to their baptismal covenant. 

At the end of the celebration, Bishop Solis prayed over the Elect and the candidates.