Thousands in U.S. Poised to Join the Church

Some Inspired by Coverage of John Paul II's Last Days

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WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Thousands of Americans will join the Catholic Church this Holy Saturday through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.



Many of those in the RCIA program participated in the Rite of Election with their bishops at the beginning of Lent and will be baptized, confirmed and receive Communion for the first time this Saturday. More, who already have been baptized, will embrace full membership in the Catholic Church.

The numbers vary around the country. The Archdiocese of Denver, for example, reports that 700 people will be baptized and 1,400 will come into full communion there.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, reports 1,090 will be baptized and 905 will come into full communion. The Archdiocese for Military Services reports it will baptize 425 persons and welcome 515 into full communion.

According to early figures from the 2006 Official Catholic Directory, last year 80,521 adults were baptized in the Catholic Church and 73,296 came into full communion. In addition, there were 940,194 infant baptisms.

Varied

The backgrounds of the people seeking to be baptized or to enter into full communion by receiving first Communion and/or confirmation vary.

Martin White, chief executive officer of MDU Resources, a Fortune 500 company, will enter the Church through the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota.

White and his wife, Sheila, prepared for entering the Church with the Benedictine Sisters at the University of Mary, Bismarck, where he will soon become dean of the college's newly established school of business.

Three generations of women will come into full communion in the Church at the Easer Vigil liturgy in Our Lady of Grace Church in Minot, North Dakota. There, Mary Lund, her daughter-in-law Lory Lund, and her granddaughter Tami Voeller will be confirmed.

In Richfield, Utah, St. Elizabeth Parish, which has three missions and draws parishioners from a 6,700-square-mile area, has eight elect preparing to enter the Church.

One is an 87-year-old man whose daughter and family joined the Church a few years ago. Another is a young woman who was deeply touched by what she saw on television at the time of Pope John Paul II's death.

Papal impact

The response to John Paul II's death also touched Diannah Hedgebeth, who will make a profession of faith, be confirmed and receive first Communion at St. Michael's Church in Newark, New Jersey.

She had been on a religious quest for a couple of years, she said, and recognized her call to the Catholic Church as she watched events surrounding the last days of John Paul II.

"The moment his death was announced," she said, "God spoke to me and told me that's where I belonged."

Another searcher, Stacey Karpp, who attended the RCIA program at San Felipe de Neri Parish near Albuquerque, New Mexico, also spoke of feeling at home in the Catholic Church. She was adopted and raised Jewish but did not feel comfortable in the Jewish religion and later learned that her birth mother was Catholic.

While praying for guidance during a quest to find the religion where she belonged, she said the answer exploded in her mind: "Be who you are." She will be baptized Holy Saturday.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is an ancient rite that was reinstituted in the Church following the Second Vatican Council. It is the usual means for adults to come into the Church.