Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - A total of 852 catechumens are preparing spiritually to receive the sacrament of baptism during the Easter Vigil on April 8, 2023, considering only the Catholic communities of Peninsular Malaysia. Another group of 789 catechumens is found in Malaysian Borneo regions. The celebration promises to be a very emotional time for them and their families. As announced by the Church in Malaysia, their names will be inscribed in the "Book of the Elect", thus marking the beginning of the final phase of preparation for the reception of the sacrament which makes them full members of the church community. "Let us continue to remember them in prayer as they prepare to respond to their baptismal calling", urges the Church in Malaysia.
Coming from 34 parishes in the Diocese of Kuala Lumpur, 463 candidates gathered at the Holy Family Church on February 26 to celebrate the rite of election, presided over by Archbishop Julian Leow. This rite marks the beginning of the journey of the catechumens who, as "chosen ones", will experience a time of purification and an intense spiritual and catechetical preparation to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation during the Easter Vigil. Archbishop Julian Leow thanked the catechumens for their zeal in wanting to know the faith better despite the trials and difficulties of the past two years. He also recalled the promise of the Lord: "I will be your God and you will be my people" (Jeremiah 7,23).
In the diocese of Melaka-Johor, nearly 200 catechumens expressed their desire to enter into full communion with the Church, coming both from the community of the Immaculate Conception in Johor Bahru and from the community of Sainte-Thérèse in Melaka. During the welcoming rite, the director of the diocesan catechetical ministry of Melaka-Johor, Deacon Sherman Kuek, addressed a thought to them, inviting them to "let God be the Lord of our lives".
In the Diocese of Penang, the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit was full when Bishop Sebastian Francis celebrated a multilingual Mass for 128 catechumens from 12 parishes and deaneries in the north of the diocese. The rite reflected the theme chosen for Lent: "Lord, renew our hearts so that we care for one another". Bishop Sebastian Francis expressed his joy at being with the catechumens, telling them: "You are in the heart of Christ", and explaining how the Lenten journey is also a synodal journey. Citing the cornerstones of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving, he reminded the catechumens present that they are "disciples of Jesus Christ", inviting them to "not be afraid". The Bishop pronounced their names aloud, recalling the "call of God" and saying: "Catechumens, I now declare you members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil".
In the community of Ipoh, also in Penang, 66 young people from the deanery of Perak have been preparing for a year to receive baptism. Addressing the catechumens, Bishop Francis joyfully reminded them that during the Solemn Easter Vigil, baptisms would be celebrated in Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Perak, Penang and other places in Malaysia, assuring catechumens that he would personally pray for each of them, every day, until Easter.
In Borneo, Malaysia, the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu - capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah - welcomed 789 catechumens during the Rite celebrated in the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart by Archbishop John Wong. The catechumens publicly expressed their desire to receive baptism and their names were entered in the registers of their respective parishes. The Archbishop reminded the catechumens to follow Jesus, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, inviting all the People of God, priests, religious and laity, to pray and bear witness to faith to spread the Word of God. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 18/3/2023)