.- Two New England states welcomed the largest number of new Catholics this Easter Vigil since the priest sex abuse scandal broke four years ago. The Archdiocese of Boston welcomed 500 new members while the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., welcomed 400, reported the Eagle-Tribune newspaper.
"It shows that the faith is growing and that we can see beyond the controversy that God works in wonderful ways," Diane Jarvis, director of religious education at St. Patrick's Church in Lawrence, Massachusetts told the Eagle-Tribune.
At St. Patrick's, the 26 new members ranged in age, from 10 to 60. It was largest group of converts in the past four years. The new members include people with special needs. The parish offers religious education for people with disabilities.
Pamela Pfifferling, 37, and her 12-year-old daughter Courtney were among those receiving first Communion at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill. Pfifferling told the Eagle-Tribune that the scandal led her to postpone her decision to join the church. But she lost her fear and changed her mind after meeting Fr. Keith LeBlanc, pastor at St. John’s, who made her feel at ease.
"It's a powerful witness to those who are cradle Catholics to see how non-Christians or those of no faith tradition at all make a definite choice to establish a relationship with Christ," Fr. Robert Couto of St. Jude Parish in Londonderry, N.H., told the Eagle-Tribune. Fourteen people became Catholic at St. Jude’s this year.
Edward Wolfe became a Catholic over at St. Michael Parish in North Andover. He was raised Methodist, but his wife, Mary, is Catholic, and their four children are being raised Catholics.
"For me, the most important thing is to share the Eucharist with my family," he told the newspaper.
Wolfe said he was never deterred by the abuse scandal. “Even though we went through a rough time, I knew it was a small portion of the church that needed to be corrected. I had faith and confidence," he was quoted as saying.