USCCB News Release
March 26, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catechumens, Candidates, Sign of Easter Blessings for the Catholic Church
WASHINGTON—Thousands of new Catholics will join the Church on Easter. Every year, in dioceses big and small, people seeking baptism (catechumens) or to be brought into full communion with the Church (candidates) signal a new springtime at Easter and are a reminder of the power of the Gospel to transform lives.
They come from all walks of life. For some, it is family and friends who led them to undertake this process of conversion. For others, powerful and painful personal experiences led them on the journey.
On April 3, 2003, while serving in Iraq, Jeremy Feldbusch, now 30, from Blairsville, Pennsylvania, was hit with shrapnel from enemy artillery, resulting in blindness in both eyes and traumatic brain injury. Medical professionals expected him to die, or if he lived, to never speak or understand again. He was in an induced coma for six weeks to minimize the swelling of his brain and kept alive on a ventilator. After five unsuccessful attempts to remove the ventilator— five times he “died” and was resuscitated— on the sixth try Jeremy awoke. From the intensive care unit at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Jeremy asked his father: “Why did God take my eyesight?” His father posed a different question: “Why did God let you live?” After returning to Blairsville and spending nine months in daily rehabilitation, Feldbusch began to think that things happen for a reason and resolved to spend his life helping other wounded service members. Exactly seven years after this traumatic experience, Jeremy, a baptized Methodist who often attended Mass with aunts and friends, will enter the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil, April 3. He thinks the dates are not coincidental. Jeremy lives in the Diocese of Greenburg, where 163 people have gone through the catechumenate process and are expected to join the Church on Easter. Thousands more will do the same around the country.
According to the 2010 edition of a yearbook published by the National Council of Churches, in the United States and Canada membership numbers have gone up 1.49 percent for the Catholic Church—the country’s largest denomination with more than 68 million members.
This vitality is especially notable in the South and Southwest of the United States.
In Texas, the Diocese of Dallas will welcome over 3,000 new Catholics into the Church this Easter. Of them, 700 are catechumens and 2,300 are validly baptized candidates who have been preparing to enter the Catholic Church or completing their Christian initiation for nearly one year.
Children who were not baptized as infants or who did not receive the sacraments of initiation at the regular time also participate in this process through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC). The Archdiocese of San Antonio, for example, reports 214 children catechumens (age of reason and older) and 124 children candidates, in addition to 255 adult catechumens and 519 adult candidates, for a total of 1,112 people. The Diocese of Ft. Worth reports approximately one thousand catechumens and candidates, and the Diocese of Victoria will welcome 132 new Catholics from 14 parishes.
In Arizona, the Diocese of Tucson welcomes 186 catechumens and 331 candidates for full communion from 41 parishes. Statistics kept by the diocese show a slow but steady stream of newcomers each year.
In the South, the Archdiocese of Atlanta reported that over 1,800 people will join the Catholic Church at Easter. This is the largest group of new Catholics registered in Atlanta in any year on record. Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta presided over the Rite of Election and Call to Continued Conversion, when catechumens and candidates are formally presented to the local bishop, at a ceremony conducted in eleven languages, February 21, at the Atlanta Civic Center. The Diocese of Savannah, Georgia, will welcome 124 catechumens and 297 candidates.
The nation’s largest archdiocese, Los Angeles, reported that nearly 2,400 catechumens and candidates will be received into the Church on Easter. The Archdiocese of Seattle will welcome 682 catechumens and 479 candidates, for a total of 1,161 people, and the Archdiocese of Potland, in Oregon, will receive 410 catechumens and 432 candidates, totaling 842 people.
In other areas of the country, the Archdiocese of Detroit will welcome 1,225 people. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati reports a combined number of 1,049 catechumens and candidates. The Archdiocese of Denver expects 1,102 new Catholics, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis reports 182 catechumens and 515 candidates.
In the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, an estimate 1,100 people will be brought into the Church. The Archdiocese of Washington, which includes the District of Columbia and part of Maryland, will receive approximately 1,150 people, as well 18 students from St Augustine School, the oldest African American school in the District.
The Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee, will welcome 400 new members. The Indiana Diocese of South Bend-Ft. Wayne will welcome 193 catechumens and 276 candidates, for a total of 469 people; and the Diocese of Allentown, Pennsylvania, will welcome 486 new Catholics.
In a less populated area, the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which encompasses the whole state of West Virginia, welcomes 364 candidates and catechumens.
The Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota, expects 34 catechumens and 92 candidates at Easter, while the Diocese of Juneau, Alaska, with 11 parishes and 13 missions, will welcome 10 catechumens and 12 candidates.
Definite numbers won’t be known until the fall parish censuses are completed. Although most catechumens and candidates are formally received into the Church at Easter, some, especially candidates for full communion, may join the church at other times during the year.