Why have people been leaving in the middle of Mass?
Each year on the night before Easter, Catholic churches around the world welcome new members into their community through the sacrament of baptism. Those who have not yet been baptized are called catechumens, from the Greek word katekhein, meaning “to instruct.” The catechumens prepare for their baptism by being instructed in the faith throughout the year: praying with the scriptures, studying the history of the Church, and discussing life’s bigger questions in a small faith community. In the weeks leading up to Easter, the catechumens are presented before the congregation at the 11am Mass on Sunday and dismissed after the homily. This is not because we are being inhospitable to them, as if we were denying them Christ’s presence. Rather, this is an opportunity for them to better prepare for the ultimate encounter with Christ’s presence at their baptism, which will occur in just a few weeks. When they are dismissed after the homily, they spend time in further reflection, prayer, and discussion on the Word of God in a small group with the other catechumens and their sponsors. All members of the parish are strongly encouraged to pray for these catechumens during this process and to join them at the Easter Vigil for their baptism on April 20 at 8pm.