Bishop welcomes people set to join the Church at Easter


On the first Sunday of Lent, more than 160 people hoping to join the Catholic Church at Easter attended the Rite of Election. 165 candidates and catechumens travelled to Brentwood Cathedral from 36 parishes across the diocese, from Barking to Brightlingsea, from Harlow to Tilbury, from Wanstead to Witham, to be welcomed by Bishop Alan Williams sm. Their journey had begun with a Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programme in their individual parishes and will come to fruition at the Easter Vigil. They were supported at the service by their priests, sponsors, families and friends. Each had been presented to their parish communities, accepted and elected.

Bishop Alan Williams sm received the Book of the Elect, signed by those making the commitment to become Catholics, during the service. Then the parish groups were introduced to the Bishop by those who have guided them through the RCIA journey, so that he could personally welcome each individual.

In his homily, the Bishop quoted from Pope Leo, saying that the special feature of Lent is that it is a time when we can make peace with Christ. He also cited Pope Francis’ contention that Lent is a time of great conversion. “Our journey is one for all in a chaotic and problematic world.”  He talked about World Youth Day in Lisbon and the journey of the candidates and catechumens. “Christ is for everyone – and through him things are better.” Bishop Alan also quoted the parables of the coin and the prodigal son, saying that God chooses to help us and that the hidden treasure is God within us.

Shirley Hegewald, who is the catechist for the RCIA programme at Rayleigh, travelled to the Rite with the six people from the parish who are joining the Church at Easter. “The service gives them the sense that they are not alone and that they are getting close to making that final step. They enjoy the music, the atmosphere and are excited to meet the Bishop.”

Gina, one of Rayleigh’s candidates, agrees. “It was really nice to feel part of something – and feel welcomed into the community.” She has been encouraged to do the RCIA course by her daughter who is at the parish school. “The course has been enlightening and I have learnt a lot. It has been really nice to discuss things with my daughter after the sessions. It has given me time to reflect and think and pray. I never felt close enough to talk to God before this. And going to Mass every week is giving me a connection with God and a community.” She is looking forward to becoming part of the Church at the Easter Vigil – when her daughter will also be baptised.

Brentwood Cathedral parish group:

For more information about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) please see:
Those who are interested in becoming a Catholic and have questions to ask can also contact the Catholic Enquiry Office on: 020 7901 4863; email: [email protected] website:

Photos by Jim Lynch