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Candidates at the Rite of Election in St George's Cathedral, Southwark (Archdiocese of Southwark/Flickr)

Some dioceses saw a rise in the number of candidates at their Rites of Election this year

More than four hundred people took part in Rites of Election at Westminster Cathedral last weekend.

At Masses presided over by Cardinal Nichols, who was assisted by Bishops Sherrington, Hudson, McAleenan and Wilson, 219 candidates and 200 catechumens attended Rites of Election over Saturday and Sunday.

In his remarks to the congregation, Cardinal Nichols made much of the Rites’ communitarian nature. “We give thanks to God for the ways in which our parishes and diocesan family will be enriched by you and we promise to continue to support you and your families with our prayers and the example of Christian life that you experience in our parish communities.”

Some dioceses reported increases in participation compared with previous years’ services. Nottingham had thirty more participants than last year preparing for Paschal reception; Birmingham eight. Others, however, declined. There were fewer people in both Cardiff and Middlesbrough, according to diocesan spokesmen. Westminster also saw a drop, although the number was still higher than in 2017.

The Bishop of East Anglia, Alan Hopes, a former Anglican cleric, greeted thirty-two candidates and thirty catechumens in person. “Today is a celebration of your hope and trust in Jesus Christ, to whom you turn for salvation. Today you are being elected, chosen, called to salvation. The Church rejoices with you as she numbers you amongst all those who have been called and chosen. During Lent, together with the whole Church, you are being called to turn to the Lord. You are being called to deepen you commitment to Him and so grow in holiness. You are being called to become saints of God,” he said.

For those following the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the Rite of Election is among the final stages of preparation for reception and Confirmation. Held by tradition at the commencement of Lent for those being received during the Easter Vigil, it provides an approximate guide to the number of converts; though the total is usually greater, participation being optional.