More than 600 people preparing to be welcomed into the Catholic Church gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Feb. 18 for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, celebrated by Washington Auxiliary Bishop Mario Dorsonville. This group is half of the more than 1,300 people in the Archdiocese of Washington who are preparing to be baptized or confirmed as Catholics on Easter. The remaining half will attend the Feb. 25 Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

During the Rite of Election, godparents accompanied catechumens, or non-baptized people, to the front of the basilica. There, the godparents affirmed that the catechumen who they are accompanying is prepared to enter the Church at Easter. The catechumens stated their desire to enter fully into the life of the Church, and Bishop Dorsonville declared them to be members of the “elect,” who have been chosen by God to enter the Church.

Afterward, during the Call to Continuing Conversion, sponsors accompanied candidates, who are already baptized Christians, to the front of the basilica and placed their hands on their shoulders as they declared their readiness to be confirmed.

Bishop Mario Dorsonville called this liturgy “one of the most powerful and inspiring manifestations of the Holy Spirit.”

“Your call to conversion is a visible sign that women and men, young and old, from all walks of life are continuing to respond to our Lord’s invitation to ‘follow me,’” he told the candidates and catechumens.

Bishop Dorsonville noted that the Holy Spirit had touched everyone there in different ways, and each person had had a different experience that led them to enter the Church.

“We are reminded that the work of everyday evangelization is to help others find the joy of being close to God,” he said.

Bishop Dorsonville encouraged the candidates and catechumens to continue to grow closer to God through the sacraments, and to become missionary disciples, actively proclaiming the work of God in their lives.

“You never walk alone,” he told them. “Your godparents and sponsors represent a small part of the very large family of faith ready to welcome you on Easter.”