The “Opening Dialogue” requires a presider who can stay on his toes. The basic intent is to identify the candidates by name, and to receive this public response to a ritual inquiry on why they are here and what they seek. It has options, too, depending on the circumstances.
50. Unless the candidates are already known to all present, the celebrant asks for or calls out their given names. The candidates answer one by one, even if, because of a large number, the question is asked only once. One of the following or something similar may be used.
It doesn’t say a lot, does it? The rite gives this question: “What is your name?” for individual questioning. Option B is calling out each of the candidates’ names with the response, “Present.”
I don’t think much of either option. They seem clumsy and stilted. The “group of the faithful” (RCIA 48) gathered outside are sponsors, friends, and parishioners in-the-know. They should know all or some of the newcomers. I’d almost prefer the identification by name or by “present” be omitted.
As an alternative, I’ve seen sponsors introduce their candidates in turn, followed directly by the presider asking each what they ask of the Church.
Part two of the Dialogue continues from here:
The celebrant continues with the following questions for the individual candidates or, when there are a large number, for the candidates to answer as a group. The celebrant may use other words than those provided in asking the candidates about their intentions and may let them answer in their own words: for example, to the first question, “What do you ask of the Church of God?” of “What do you desire?” or “For what reason have you come?”, he may receive such answers as “The grace of Christ” or “Entrance into the Church” or “Eternal life” or other suitable responses. The celebrant then phrases his next question according to the answer received.
Going down the line of candidates to ask names, then repeating the movement again for the Q&A seems awkward to me. A smoother ritual would find the priest asking the name or having the sponsor introduce the person, then asking them the ritual question, “What do you ask of God’s Church?” There is a follow-up question, “What does (the candidate’s first response) offer you?” based on the reply to the first query.
Are the candidates prepared–but not in the sense of memorizing a script–for this exchange? The questions are profound and personal, and they are the first ritual words spoken before God and the community. This needs to be done right, especially for the more reserved candidates in our midst.