WASHINGTON (March 21, 2007)—More than 150,000 Americans joined the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) last spring. This year, on Easter Sunday, April 8, an hour-long television special will introduce viewers to some of those who became Catholics through the RCIA program in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
"Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism" follows a fascinating group of people through the year-round RCIA process of adult education and initiation into the Catholic community, culminating with their baptism at the Easter Vigil. Filmed on location in the Pacific Northwest and in the breath-taking interior of Seattle's St. James Cathedral during 2004, the program is a vibrant and moving experience of the adult spiritual journey.
The hour-long liturgical special, produced by New Group Media of South Bend, Indiana, for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Catholic Communication Campaign (CCC), will be scheduled to air on Easter Sunday, April 8, at the discretion of NBC-TV affiliate stations. Viewers can contact their local NBC-TV affiliates to ask about plans to air the program and check the CCC Web site (www.usccb.org/ccc) for information on air dates and times.
The reasons those featured in the program chose to join the Catholic Church are as varied as their previous religious experience, says Helen Oesterle, director of the RCIA program at the Cathedral of St. James. Among the new Catholics are former atheists, Buddhists, individuals from Jewish backgrounds and others from Protestant traditions.
"Sometimes people come because they're getting married to a Catholic or they're married to a Catholic. That's probably 20 percent of the group," says Oesterle. "We also have people who come because a co-worker or friend is Catholic and they just started going to Mass with them."
Those who already have been baptized in another Christian faith are called "candidates." At the Easter Vigil, they receive the other two sacraments of initiation, Eucharist and confirmation, and are received into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Unbaptized persons are called catechumens and they are fully initiated into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil through baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
During the Easter Vigil at St. James Cathedral, the catechumens are baptized by immersion. The emotion is intense as each one enters the baptistry according to Seattle Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett.
"I take each of them by the hand and you can feel the different reaction," says Archbishop Brunett. "You can feel people who are actually shaking, you know, and so excited, and some of them so tense because this has got to be a very big moment; they've really worked toward this moment."
"Come to the Water: The Adult Journey to Baptism" is provided to NBC stations by the USCCB through its membership in the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission – a Christian, Jewish and Muslim consortium that provides religious and spiritual programming to network television.
The Catholic Communication Campaign is an activity of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that develops media programming, public service announcements, and other resources to promote Gospel values. Donations of Catholic parishioners make possible the work of the CCC. For more information, visit www.usccb.org/ccc.