Catechumens, Depart!


I have been a “fly on the wall” in the local Orthodox cathedral over the last few Sundays. I’ve enjoyed staying throughout services, though of course I don’t take communion. However, at one point during the proceedings the Bishop announces “let all catechumens depart”. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but after a little research I’ve found that “catechumen” is apparently an old term for an “open-minded pagan” in the process of conversion. Is this correct?

I would certainly not call myself a “Christian,” and I might well be called an “open minded pagan.” However, I was technically baptized in the Lutheran church. Do I need to be concerned about staying for services after the request that “catechumens depart”?


During the Liturgy there is a Litany for the Catechumens, which ends with the deacon exclaiming, “Catechumens, depart!”

Catechumens were individuals preparing to be baptized in the Church. In former times, prior to the beginning of the Eucharistic portion of the Liturgy, all those who were not prepared or unable to receive the Eucharist were dismissed. The dismissal of the catechumens was one of these, and it is generally understood that, upon their dismissal, they went off for further catechesis in preparation for their eventual Baptism.

Today, unless the local custom dictates otherwise [and I have never encountered this], no one actually expects the catechumens to depart at this time. In other words, if no one explicitly ushers you out, then you should feel free to stay for the entire Liturgy, without taking Holy Communion, however.