How to rehearse the rite of sending

Rehearsal outline:
Sending of the Catechumens for Election

RCIA 106-117

6:30 Before everyone arrives

  • Turn on lights and put out microphones.
  • Put stand or table for the Book of the Elect in place.
  • Place the book and a substantial pen on it.
  • Put the lectionary on the ambo.
  • Put presider’s script or ritual book on his chair.
  • Put the catechumenate director’s script on her chair or pew.
  • Place name tags in the pews where you want the catechumens and their godparents to sit.
  • If necessary, mark the spots where the catechumens will stand with a piece of masking tape.

7:00 Welcome the participants: the presider, the director of the catechumenate, the godparents, and perhaps the musician. (The catechumens are not present.) Ask the presider, godparents, and catechumenate director to sit in their places. Lead a brief prayer.

7:10 Remind the godparents of these essential points; be lighthearted, but still convey the importance of the information:

  • Point out to the godparents that this rite has two primary elements
    • The testimony of the godparents (and the assembly)
    • The signing of the Book of the Elect
  • Godparents need to pick up their catechumens from home or meet them in front of the church before Mass.
  • Everyone needs to be in their seats 15 minutes before Mass starts.
  • From the minute they walk into the church, until the minute the catechumens are dismissed, the godparents need to be in physical contact with their catechumens. A hand on an arm or shoulder at all times.
  • It is the godparents’ responsibility to know the details of the rite. They need to project an air of confidence and always reassure the catechumens that things are under control.
  • Point out to them that Mass will begin as usual and will be “normal” up through the homily. After the homily ends, they need to be ready.

7:20 Presentation of the candidates

The catechumenate director moves to her microphone and reads her lines at paragraph 111 in the RCIA. (Remember, these lines can be adapted, but you need to do that before rehearsal.)

The presider calls forth the catechumens. He can make a general call (paragraph 111), followed by the name of each catechumen. Or he can make a general call and the director of the catechumenate can call each individual name.

When the godparent hears his catechumen’s name, he should act out taking the catechumen by the arm and walking the catechumen to the spot you have chosen.

MUSIC NOTE: The cantor could chant the names of the catechumens to call them forward.

7:25 Affirmation by the godparents

The presider reads his lines (paragraph 112). If the godparents are going to give extended testimony, the presider would not ask the questions in the text. (Remember, these lines can be adapted, but you need to do that before rehearsal.) If that is the case, instruct the godparents about these things:

  • The order in which they will testify. (They don’t need to go in order, but then you need to tell them that also.)
  • They need to speak loudly, even if they have a microphone. (Practice a few lines to see how they sound.)
  • If you or another member of the team will be working with them on their testimony, tell them when and where.

If you will not be doing extended testimony, have the presider read through the questions and have the godparents respond. Make sure they respond loudly and clearly.

(Remind them to keep a hand on their catechumen.)

MUSIC NOTE: There can be a sung acclamation after the testimonies. If you are doing extended testimonies, perhaps an acclamation after every three or so.

7:35 Affirmation by the assembly

Have the presider ask for the assembly’s affirmation. This can also be an extended testimony if you have time. Or it can be a simple question to which the assembly responds “Yes” or “We do.” However, there is no question in the ritual text. You will need to write one.

7:40 Signing of the book

(If the signing is to take place in the presence of the bishop, it is omitted in the parish Rite of Sending.)

The presider concludes the affirmations with a call to sign the book. You will need to write this; it is not in the ritual text.

The godparents act out escorting their catechumens to the book and handing them the pen to sign with. Tell them what order to go in and how long to wait between signings. Tell them to return to their “tape” spot after their catechumen has signed. Walk it through with each godparent.

(Remind them to keep a hand on their catechumen.)

Point out to the godparents that even though the catechumens will have signed the Book of the Elect, they will not be Elect until the bishop declares them to be.

During the signings, the director of the catechumenate goes to get the lectionary.

MUSIC NOTE: There can be a sung acclamation after each signing. There should be a more extended acclamation after all the signings. You or the director or the presider could process the Book of the Elect (open) through the assembly at this point.

7:50 Intercessions

Note that the intercessions and the prayer over the catechumens will be prayed at this point. (There is no need to actually read through them.)

Point out to the godparents that these are intercessions for the catechumens and not the prayer of the faithful that we usually do at Mass.

(Remind them to keep a hand on their catechumen.)

MUSIC NOTE: The intercessions could be chanted.

Dismissal

The presider reads the dismissal line. (Write one or choose one of the options in the ritual text before rehearsal.)

The director of the catechumenate exits down the center aisle, carrying the lectionary.

Tell the godparents to tell the catechumens to follow the book. Remind them that even though the catechumens will be used to a dismissal, the flow of the liturgy will be new to them and they might be momentarily confused. The godparents should make sure the catechumens know what to do.

After the catechumens have left, the godparents will return to their pews.

MUSIC NOTE: There would ordinarily be an acclamation as the catechumens leave.

8:00 End

Thank the godparents for their time and their commitment. Remind them to be in their seats 15 minutes early. Make sure they have your e-mail address and cell phone number in case they have any questions.


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