Thousands in U.S. to Join Church

Many Feel They Have Found a Home

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 11, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Tens of 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 across dioceses. The Diocese of Orange, California, for example, will baptize more than 650 people and welcome more than 500 others into full communion at the Easter Vigil.

The Archdiocese of Detroit registers some of the largest numbers with 589 catechumens receiving full initiation and 497 candidates from other Christian traditions being received into full communion. Although technically not part of the RCIA, 289 baptized Catholics will also receive confirmation and Eucharist.

In Ohio, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will welcome during the Easter Vigil 437 catechumens and 541 candidates for a total of 978 people; another 65 candidates were brought into the Church at other times during the year.

Most of those coming into the Church through the RCIA program are adults, but in some instances children are part of both groups, usually as members of a family that enters the Church together.

According to early figures from the 2007 Official Catholic Directory, last year almost 64,500 adults were baptized in the Catholic Church and nearly 93,000 came into full communion.

These numbers are supplemented by the baptisms of infants that occur in parishes throughout the year. It is estimated that more than a million infant baptisms will take place in the U.S. during 2008.

Search is over

The backgrounds of the people seeking to be baptized or to enter into full communion by receiving first Communion and/or confirmation vary, but many express the sentiment that they are coming home.

Mark Ma, a second year student at the University of Virginia, who has a major in economics and a minor in philosophy, was born in Beijing, to agnostic parents.

A self-defined hard-line atheist through high school, he started talking to Christians of different denominations, read a few Christian works and began to pray.

After soul searching and historical research he found his home in the Catholic Church.

In another instance, when Kimberly Grub moved from Texas to Rhode Island, she decided to embark up on something she’d been wanting to do for a long time -- get closer to God.

Feeling the discomfort that comes in moving to a new place, she found comfort and community at St. Lucy’s Church in Middletown, and will become a member of the Catholic Church on 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.