Q: Is it required that Catechumens – Adult or child – sign the Book of the Elect within a Liturgical Rite (i.e. of Welcoming)? Are there exceptions that are made when a Rite of Welcoming is not the practice at a parish?
My thanks and congratulations on your new assignment at the Diocese!
A: The RCIA does not envision the possibility of signing the Book of the Elect apart from a liturgical rite. It permits it either at the Rite of Sending (not Welcoming) or the Rite of Election. If a parish is not offering a rite of sending, then the catechumen may sign the book of elect during a rite of election. The bishop or his delegate presides for the ceremony. So if a catechumen wants to sign, the bishop can delegate a priest to preside for an additional rite of election in his parish.
Another option is for the catechumen not to sign the book. Part II section 2 of the RCIA considers the circumstance of Christian Initiation of Adults in Exception Circumstances. It does not include the signing of the book of the elect. You could argue that catechumens who do not sign the book are essentially following a version of this alternative rite of initiation.
Thanks for your kind words about my new work as director of the Office of Divine Worship for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.