2nd Period

Period of the Catechumenate

A Catechumen (from Latin catechumenus, instructed) is one receiving instruction in the principles of the Christian religion with a view to baptism. It is for this reason that those who are already validly baptized in another Christian Faith are not known as Catechumens, but rather Candidates.

The Catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life.

This is achieved in four ways {paraphrased}:

  • Suitable catechesis; solidly supported by celebrations of the Word.
  • The Catechumens learning to:

– Turn more readily to God in prayer
– To bear witness to the Faith
– In all things to keep their hopes set on Christ
– To follow supernatural inspiration in their deeds
– To practice the love of neighbour, even at the cost of self-renunciation

  • Suitable liturgical rites, which purify the Catechumens little by little and strengthen them with God’s blessing; including celebrations of the Word.
  • Learning to work actively with others to spread the Gospel.

From the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

The period of the Catechumenate is a time for:

  • Continuing to build community within the group
  • Getting more involved in parish activities, getting to know the parish community
  • Learning about the basic teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church
  • Exploring important and foundational Scripture passages

More importantly, it is a time for:

  • Continuing to examine God’s presence in our lives, past and present
  • Developing prayer life, entering into the communal worship of the parish
  • Fostering conversion
  • Developing or improving our relationship with God

Various Rites pertain to this period of instruction for those who are unbaptized (Catechumens):

  • Celebrations of the Word of God
  • Minor Exorcisms
  • Blessings of the Catechumens
  • Anointing of the Catechumens
  • Presentations {Optional}
  • Sending of the Catechumens for Election (a meeting with the Bishop of Catechumens from many Parishes throughout a Diocese) {Optional}

An optional Rite also pertains to this period for those who are baptized (Candidates):

  • Rite of Sending the Candidates for Recognition by the Bishop and for the Call to Continuing Conversion

There is also a combined optional Rite if there are both Catechumens and Candidates in a Parish:

  • Parish Celebration for Sending Catechumens for Election and Candidates for Recognition by the Bishop

The conclusion of this Period leads onto the Rite of Election or Enrolment of Names for those who are unbaptized and the Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion for those who are baptized. This is a very significant and important step in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent at the local Diocesan Cathedral, led by the local Bishop. All of the Catechumens and Candidates, their Godparents (for Catechumens) and Sponsors (for Catechumens and Candidates) gather together on this day. It often involves hundreds of people coming together for this occasion. The Church formally ratifies the Catechumens’ readiness for the Sacraments of Initiation, and the Candidates’ readiness to be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church. In turn the Catechumens – from now on known as the Elect – publicly acknowledge their desire to receive the Sacraments of Initiation, and the Candidates’ their desire to be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church.