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Rite of Sending

by Paul Turner


The rite of sending is a parish celebration that sends catechumens to the rite of election. At the rite of election, usually on or about the First Sunday of Lent, the church names the catechumens to be baptized at Easter. Generally, the rite of election takes place at the cathedral with the bishop. Because of the cathedral’s limited space and sometimes remote location, parish communities celebrate the rite of sending.

Sending may take place at a Sunday Mass. After the homily, a catechist may present the catechumens to the priest, who calls them forward with their godparents and asks if the catechumens are ready. Have they taken their formation seriously? Have they given evidence of their conversion? Do the godparents judge them ready for the rite of election?

The church must verify the readiness of the catechumens. We do not baptize based only on their desire. “There should be a deliberation prior to [the rite of election] to decide on the catechumen’s suitableness.” This is carried out by those who help form the catechumens, by godparents, and members of the community (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 122). The questions have real significance.

In some places, the catechumens sign the book of the elect at the parish during the rite of sending. In others, they sign it at the cathedral during the rite of election. The ritual concludes with prayers for the catechumens.

The rite of sending is optional, but it allows the parish to affirm the readiness of its catechumens. There is another optional rite of sending for those previously baptized in other ecclesial communities who are preparing for the rite of reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Copyright © 2001, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.  For permission e-mail info@rpinet.com.
Paul Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.

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