|A New American Easter Discipline: Befriending New Catholics|
|Written by Sherry|
|Wednesday, 12 March 2008 11:37|
My friend Eryn sent me this great Zenit piece on the adults entering the Church again this Easter.
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.
According to early figures, in 2007, almost 64,500 adults were baptized in the Catholic Church and nearly 93,000 came into full communion. As has happened for the past 12 years, nearly 160,000 adults became Catholic by choice last Easter.
We should always remember that this beautiful, stirring, annual drama is unique in the western world. It is the positive side of the same dynamics that draw so many out of the Church - a religious culture that fosters individual spiritual searching and gives the searcher a vast spectrum of options.
I've told this story before but I remember vividly being part of a parish meeting with Cardinal Schonborn of Vienna and listening to someone involved in a returning Catholics program, tell him that their parish saw an average of 100 people enter every year.
"One hundred?" the Cardinal responded in an astonished tone.
"One hundred?" He repeated as though his excellent English was suddenly failing him.
"One hundred"???? He asked yet again.
"Yes, your Eminence, one hundred." replied his puzzled informant.
But many, even a majority, will not be practicing a year from now. For a variety of reasons that we have discussed on this blog before.
One thing we can do this year to change that statistic. Befriend these new Catholics who are about to leave the friendly little womb of the catechumenate for the vast ocean of the Church universal. Lots of new Catholics drown in that ocean.
So lets not just congratulate them at the Vigil. Want to do your part to change those Pew statistics? Consider how you can encourage, foster the faith of the new Catholics in your parish through your continued friendship and support this year. Learn their name. Go out of your way to greet them at Mass. Invite them over to dinner. Invite them into a small faith-centered group. Whatever.
Lets all take some personal responsibility for the on-going spiritual and relationship welfare of these new Catholics. It could literally change the course of someone's life.