Despite a wet, miserable day, St. Andrew’s Cathedral was filled with a happy, expectant congregation for this service. The St. Mungo Singers sang as the congregation gathered until the catechumens and candidates processed in from the adjoining Eyre Hall.
Archbishop Tartaglia was unable to preside as he was still convalescing from his recent illness, and his place was taken by Mgr Paul Conroy, the Vicar General, who expressed his sense of privilege to be representing the Archbishop at the service. The service itself began with the singing of the Introit for Lent. The Liturgy of the Word followed, with the readings of the Sunday (Genesis 9:8-15; and Mark 1:12-15) and the singing of the psalm (Ps.24).
Mgr. Conroy then spoke to the catechumens and candidates. He told them that the eyes of the whole church, not just those present, were on them, and they were also in the mind of Archbishop Tartaglia. Lent belonged to them. It was a special time for them; their time of preparation reaches its high point and there will be excitement among them, their families, godparents/sponsors, RCIA teams and their priests.
Referring to the Genesis story, he said that he had seen a rainbow on Friday, and had thought of the Noah story and of them. God is about to make a new covenant with them. Water will be for them not a destroyer but a means of new life. Jesus invites them into the wilderness with him, to become aware of their utter dependence on God, his love and his mercy, and to be able to hear his call most clearly.
The wilderness for them will not be a place of abandonment. They will continue to have the support of their community. He concluded by referring to Pope Francis’ Lent message where he warned against indifference. He told the catechumens and candidates that they were an inspiration for us, for they were not indifferent, and together we would celebrate at Easter.
The formal call and Act of Election for the Catechumens followed and they filled the sanctuary as they signed their names in the Book of the Elect. For the Candidates, the call was to continuing conversion. After both groups returned to their places in the congregation, a reader led the Intercessions on behalf of all involved, and the congregation responded in song. The service then ended with the joyful words of Bernadette Farrell’s “Christ be our Light”