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On the first Saturday of Lent, as at the start of every Lent, our diocesan family gathered at the cathedral together with our bishop to celebrate the Rite of Election, where those who are journeying towards becoming part of our Catholic community are presented to Bishop Declan. Here family and friends, sponsors and godparents, joined with those preparing for Baptism (catechumens) and those preparing to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church (candidates) as they came to this stage of their journey towards reception of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

As always, the catechumens and candidates were supported by their own communities and the wider diocesan family for this celebration of their faith and their commitment to live out the gospel which they are now embracing, forming a loving friendship with God whom they are called to know and make known. The witness that these candidates and catechumens give in taking this courageous step is always an inspiration to those who come to pray for them and to support them in their journey. It is also a reminder of our own call to continual conversion of our hearts and our lives.

In his homily Bishop Declan spoke of what we had heard in the gospel: Jesus noticed Levi and called him (Luke 5:27-32). He went on to ask if we had noticed a change in the lives of those he was now calling, in a deepening of prayer, a sense of joy in the Word and an openness to the presence of God in their lives. The same change should also be reflected in the lives each one of us, as the grace of the season of Lent helps us to draw closer to God.

This year, as always, it was good to see that joy on the faces of the 19 catechumens and 28 candidates, as they were each greeted by our bishop. These numbers, of course, do not include those who are continuing their journey towards baptism or full communion at Easter but were unable to be present at the cathedral. We keep these too in our prayers, along with their sponsors and godparents, as we continue our Lenten journey to Easter.