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Diocese Prepares to Welcome Approximately 900 New Catholics

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Approximately 900 men and women are answering God’s call this year in the Diocese of Raleigh to become members of His Church, having completed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). The Candidates (baptized) and Catechumens (unbaptized) will take their next step in their spiritual journey in the celebration of the Celebration of the Rite of Election of Catechumens and the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates Who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist or Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church. The combined Rite in the Diocese will be held the first two Sundays of Lent; February 26 and March 4, 2012.

In most dioceses, the Rite is held in the Cathedral with the Bishop presiding. With some 900 Candidates and Catechumens, plus their sponsors, families and friends attending, the total number in attendance would be in excess of 2,000 people. Sacred Heart Cathedral can only accommodate a seating capacity of 320. Therefore, the Rite of Election will be celebrated in six parishes over the two-Sunday period, with the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge able to preside at two of the six ceremonies.

On February 26, Bishop Burbidge will celebrate the Rite of Election at St. Peter Catholic Church in Greenville. Msgr. David D. Brockman, Vicar General of the Diocese, will preside at the Rite at St. Anthony of Padua in Southern Pines; and Father Marcos Leon, V.F., will preside at the Rite to be held at St. Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington. All three services will be held at 3:00 p.m.

On March 4, Bishop Burbidge will preside at the ceremony to be held at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill. Msgr. Brockman will celebrate the Rite at St. Mark Church in Wilmington, and Father James F. Garneau, V.F., will preside at the Rite at St. Mary Catholic Church in Mount Olive. The March 4 celebrations will be held at 4:00 p.m.

At the Easter Vigil, the celebration of the sacraments of initiation takes place with the former Catechumens, now called Elect, receiving the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion. The Candidates (having already been baptized) only celebrate Confirmation and the Eucharist. The Elect are now called Neophytes, and they are considered to be full members of the Christian faithful.