According to a press release from the USCCB, of the nation’s 200 dioceses, 60 reported new members into the Church at this year’s Easter Vigil.
The Vigil Mass, which is one of the most ancient rites of the Catholic Church, is the time when catechumens, who have never been baptized, receive baptism, confirmation and first Communion. At the same time, candidates, those who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition and whose baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of confirmation and the Eucharist.
Some of the largest numbers of new members were reported in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest diocese in the United States, where 1,756 catechumens and 938 candidates were welcomed. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reported 1,667 catechumens and 708 candidates while the Diocese of Dallas opened its arms to 945 catechumens and 1,230 candidates. The Archdiocese of Atlanta welcomed 722 catechumens and 1,170 candidates and the Archdiocese of Newark brought 499 catechumens and 693 candidates to the altar on Saturday evening.
Hidden in those numbers are a multitude of personal stories, such as 90 year-old Mac Harless and his 85 year-old wife, Barb who entered the Church in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. The pair said they found their church, St. John Paul II Church in Cedar Springs, to be a source of prayer, peace, and hope during Barb’s battle with cancer.
In the Diocese of Rochester, New York, Dan and Michaela Cady –along with their sons Aidan, 15, Solas, 12, and Merritt, 10 – became involved in RCIA after a family tragedy. Two years ago their daughter and sister Kennis, then 12, died suddenly.
“It just turned our heads about life,” Dan Cady said.
He added that his family was grateful for the support it received from the staff of St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester, and from there opted to pursue RCIA. As the Cadys advance on their faith journey, Dan said he’s confident his daughter is watching over them: “We would like to think it’s orchestrated by her,” he said. Some of the family members will receive the sacraments this year, and others next year.
In Orlando, Florida, Jarrid Perusse of Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo said he, “got saved on a porch” during a summer internship as a door-to-door salesman. He realized that God was reaching out to him, and “it was my turn to start reaching back,” he said.
In spite of the darkness of the culture in the West and the persecution that rages in the East, the Church continues to grow. Recent Church statistics report that the number of Catholics worldwide increased from 1.272 billion in 2014 to 1.285 in 2015, which represents nearly 18 percent of the world’s population.
This is indisputable proof that ours is a mighty God who has both the power and the desire to bring His people home no matter what their circumstances!
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