|March 9, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO.5 • Oakland, CA|
'Christ chooses you' The Rite of Election, 2015
Those seeking baptism and those seeking full reception into the Catholic Church gathered at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland the weekend of Feb. 21 for the annual Rite of Election. Catechumens — those seeking baptism — and candidates — those seeking confirmation and full reception into the church — were presented to Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ.
In his homily, the bishop recalled his happiest memory from the rite last year. "When they started calling the names, there was a boy about 6 years old, sitting way in the back, and he stood on a chair when his name was called.
"Are you all ready to stand up and be counted as disciples of Christ?" he asked. "Are you willing to pay the price?"
The price, the bishop told them, was paid just recently by 21 Coptic Christians who were executed in Libya. "They were baptized Christians. They were disciples of Jesus Christ. They were husbands and fathers. They were working men. They were selected for death because, like you, they had approached the altar for baptism, confirmation, first communion, confession."
"When I was made a bishop here, about a year and a half ago, I promised everyone I would try to do in Oakland what the pope is doing for the whole church."
The bishop said, "I went to the Coptic Orthodox Church in Hayward. I expressed, on behalf of you and all of us, our sympathy and our prayers for those 21 men and their families." (Story on Page 1.)
The bishop gave the Coptic priest a pectoral cross, a copy of the one worn by Pope Francis. The Coptic priest gave the bishop a loaf of freshly baked unconsecrated bread,
A danger to our discipleship here, the bishop said is that, "We can easily put Christ at the bottom of our priorities and put so many things ahead of Him.
"Sunday Mass is one of the major things he asks of us. He asked us to come to Him. He's looking for us. He's waiting for you to come through that door."
Noting that the Rite of Election will be one of the rare times a person will hear his or her name called in church, the bishop said his response would be, "Christ chooses you."
"Respond every day to his call," he said.
Their names were entered into the Book of the Elect, which the bishop signed. The bishop was photographed with each of the 57 parishes represented. During the three events — one in Spanish and two in English — 349 catechumens and 279 candidates were welcomed.
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