Over 500 participate in Rite of Election

BOSTON — Jamie Morison grew up in Quebec, Canada the daughter of a Catholic mother and a Protestant father. Because the Masses at the local Catholic churches were celebrated in French and her family only spoke English, they attended services at a Protestant church. Now over 30 years later and in a different country, Morison finally feels that she has come home.

Morison was one of over 500 people from nearly every city and town in the archdiocese, who expressed a desire to enter into full communion with the Church during two celebrations of the Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross March 5.

The Rite of Election, a component of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), is one of the final steps towards becoming a full, participating member of the Catholic Church. Catechumens — those never baptized — and candidates — those previously baptized in other Christian religions — will receive the sacraments of initiation and be welcomed into the Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.

“Since moving to the United States, I have felt that the Catholic Church is so welcoming,” said Morison, who attends St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood and will be confirmed at Easter. “The Church made me feel at home even though I was so far away from my family and it has given me a lot of the strength and the faith I was lacking.”

Cardinal-designate Seán P. O’Malley welcomed the busloads of catechumens and candidates to the cathedral, where they came to affirm their desire to enter the Church. The catechumens were presented to Cardinal-designate O’Malley, who asked their sponsors whether they were sufficiently prepared to enter the Church at Easter.

After their sponsors testified on their behalf, the individual catechumens signed the Book of the Elect, signifying that they are now members of God’s chosen people. Candidates called to continuing conversion who will receive confirmation and first Communion this Easter were then called forward and asked whether they were ready “to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and have a place at Christ’s eucharistic table.”

“Sponsors, continue to support these candidates with your guidance and concern,” said Cardinal-designate O’Malley. “May they see in you a love for the Church and a sincere desire for doing good.”

“Christian life and the sacraments cannot be taken lightly,” he continued. “It is important that the Church hear testimony by their sponsors of their readiness.”

The Cardinal-designate was clearly pleased with the desire of so many to enter into full communion with the Church. “Thank you to all the parish religious education programs, for all of those who work so hard to prepare for this program and the various RCIA programs,” he said. “We all look forward to your baptisms and full receptions into the Church.”

Gretchen Vallante, of St. Joseph Parish in Medway, started the RCIA program last June and anxiously awaits her baptism this Easter.

“I have always admired the morals and traditions of the Catholic Church,” said Vallante, who is expecting her first child along with her husband, who is Catholic. “I married Nicholas and now we are starting our own family and I wanted to make the religion my own.”

Nicholas added that he thinks his wife’s baptism will strengthen not only her relationship with God, but also their marriage.

“I’m really excited about it and I think it will bring us a lot closer as a family,” he said.

Debbie Brown, a mother of three children, said having children made her consider becoming Catholic.

“I didn’t grow up with any religion, but when I had children I decided that I wanted to raise them in the Catholic Church,” she said. “The sense of family and belonging attracted me to the Church.”

Brown, whose husband is Catholic but was never confirmed, hopes that her example will lead her husband to enter more fully into the Church. They plan to have their marriage blessed on their 10th wedding anniversary in June.

Brown’s RCIA classmate, Stacy Bradshaw, 20, agreed that it is important for children to be raised with faith. She was raised without religion, but visited different churches and religions looking for something to believe in. She began attending her grandmother’s church, St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Bridgewater, and said she found what she was looking for.

“It’s so important for young people to have something to believe in,” said Bradshaw. “I feel that God is with me.”