Gisele Rodriguez, a candidate from Sacred Heart Parish in Newport, gazes at the altar with mother Tricia Rodriguez during the rite of election March 10 at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
Gisele Rodriguez, a candidate from Sacred Heart Parish in Newport, gazes at the altar with mother Tricia Rodriguez during the rite of election March 10 at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. (Ed Langlois/Catholic Sentinel)
About 750 Oregonians stood in churches last month to affirm their intention to become Catholic at Easter. 
 
At the liturgies, called rites of election, the names of Catholics-to-be are written in large books signed by a bishop, an act of welcome and hope from the entire Catholic Church. 
 
Now called the elect, the group includes catechumens, those who are not yet baptized, and candidates, who were baptized in another Christian community. Amid candlelight at joyful Catholic Easter vigils at parishes across the region April 20, catechumens will be baptized and candidates will make a profession of faith. 
 
“As you go through the rest of Lent toward the Easter Vigil, we pray that God will fill you with the Holy Spirit more and more, that he will purify our hearts more and more, and that he will strengthen us in love,” Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith said March 10 at St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.  
 
In the Gospel reading at the rites, Jesus goes into the desert, where Satan tries to knock him off course. All Christians face similar temptations, Bishop Smith explained.  
 
“The devil was going to do everything he could to get Jesus to compromise, to give up, to quit what he was called to do,” the bishop told the multicultural crowd that filled the cathedral, even its balcony.  
 
“As we’ve begun Lent, we are faced with those temptations to misuse the gifts we have been given, to compromise the call of the Gospel for our lives, and at times, when push comes to shove, not to trust the Lord.”
 
The temptations point to a deep reality, Bishop Smith told the prospective Catholics, plus their godparents and sponsors. 
 
“All those temptations aim at deflecting Jesus from following his call to go through the cross,” the bishop said. “If Jesus doesn’t go through the cross, sin and death are not destroyed, he does not rise, he does not give us new life, we don’t have the Holy Spirit from Pentecost.”
 
Rites of election took place at the cathedral with Bishop Smith while Archbishop Alexander Sample went on the road, presiding in Grants Pass, Bandon and Eugene before returning to Portland for a large bilingual rite at the cathedral on the evening of March 10. 
 
In Bandon, on the southern coast, women of the Filipino American Association prepared bountiful food for a joyful reception after the rite.