This year the liturgy of acceptance into the Order of Catechumens did not take place on the first Sunday of Advent as usual for our parish. It happens that after careful discernment between the people involved: the candidate, the parish priest, and myself as catechist; we had only one person, George, ready for reception at Easter. The decision was only made early this year and therefore, we had to play catch up.

George was therefore, accepted into the Order of Catechumens and sent forth to meet the Bishop for the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent. Circumstances did not permit the longer period for Dismissal, (also a feature of our parish – but not done routinely in every parish) to break open the Word of God and the homily; had he become a catechumen in Advent. Nevertheless, George welcomed the experience and the opportunity to discuss the scriptures with other catechists over the four weeks of Lent and the Scrutiny on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent.

The parish then had an unexpected request to manage. Our parish priest had a request from a work place Chaplain to receive someone at Easter, whom, he had been preparing but lived in the parish. The priest vouched for the lady’s readiness to be received into the Church and so, Janet was included in the third scrutiny and together with George, was presented with the Creed. At the Communion Rite, they were invited to join the parish priest at the altar, were presented with the Our Father and joined the community in saying the prayer Jesus himself taught us. Having stayed for the whole Mass, they came up for a blessing in the Communion procession.

The RCIA liturgies are a great witness to the parish community, albeit at one Mass only, that in our secular world people are still coming forward to join the Catholic Church. In our Diocese alone, 350 people will become new Catholics this Easter.

Later this year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Vatican II and the restoration of this 4th century treasurer, by the Council Fathers. We go to lengths to advertise the RCIA Journey in Faith in our parish, but yet Janet could have missed weekly mentions in the newsletter. I am sad however, to have to conclude that priests still prepare people using the pre-Vatican II model, and not refer them to their parishes.

This situation highlights the need for catechists to be flexible and prepared to deal with all eventualities.

I am proud of our Easter Vigil which will be prayerful and awe-inspiring, but most of all, memorable for both George and Janet; not forgetting the whole parish family. We will rejoice with two new members of the Body of Christ; washed in the Easter waters, sealed by the Holy Spirit and nourished by the Body and Blood of the Risen Lord, ready for the “Unfolding of the Mysteries” for the rest of their lives.