By Peter Jennings.
Archbishop Bernard Longley warmly welcomed the Candidates, Catechumens, their sponsors, parish priests and families to the Rite of Election, in a packed Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, on Sunday afternoon, 17 February.
The Rite of Election marks the beginning of the final period of preparation for the Candidates and Catechumens, who will enter fully into the life of the Church at Easter through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.
The Archbishop of Birmingham, Bishop David McGough, Auxiliary Bishop and Bishop Philip Pargeter, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus, greeted and spoke to each of the Candidates, Catechumens, their sponsors, and parish priests, from about 60 parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
The opening hymn, “Praise to the Holiest”, the great poem by Blessed John Henry Newman, set a deeply moving service in the context of the First Sunday of Lent.
During his inspirational homily, Archbishop Bernard Longley, said: “In a few weeks’ time the College of Cardinals will be assembled in Rome and it will be their task to express the will of Christ for his Church by electing a new Successor of St Peter. We believe that they will be reflecting the choice of Christ himself as they listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
“Today’s election of you to be disciples in a new way is the work of the same Holy Spirit, guiding us towards what is good for the Church. This Rite of Election is special for us since it takes place during the Year of Faith.”
The Archbishop of Birmingham emphasised: “Our Lenten pilgrimage will equip us to become more effective and credible ambassadors for Christ. In the Year of Faith the Church is encouraging us to go out and to take to others the message of Christ.”
Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: “Our Lord is calling Pope Benedict to another way of serving the Church at the heart of which is prayer. As you too are called and chosen we pray that Pope Benedict may be blessed in the remaining days of his Pontificate, knowing that his example will continue to inspire us in the years to come.”