More than 150,000 Americans will join the Catholic Church Holy Saturday, April 10, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), reported the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is an ancient rite that was reinstituted in the Church following the Second Vatican Council as a means for adults to come into the Church.
Adults will enter the Church in every diocese of the country this year and in virtually every one of the nation’s nearly 19,000 parishes.
Men and women who come into the Church cite many reasons. Some are inspired by other family members, including spouses, who already are Catholic. Others find the Catholic Church during a spiritual search as they explore faith groups until they feel at home. Others seek to become active in the Church in which they were baptized but had not practiced the faith.
The RCIA also includes the Rite of Election, a liturgy service during which those who have decided to enter the Church make their intentions known publicly and sign the Book of the Elect.
According the USCCB’s early March survey, to which three-quarters of U.S. dioceses responded, more than 62,000 people participated in the Rite of Election with their bishops at the beginning of Lent. About 24,000 are catechumens, which means that they will be baptized, confirmed and receive Holy Eucharist for the first time on Holy Saturday. About 36,000 people, who already have been baptized, will embrace full membership in the Catholic Church.
Another estimated 90,000 men and women celebrated the Rite of Election in their parishes rather than with their bishops at diocesan-wide ceremonies.
“I worried that the cathedral would be next to empty due to all the scandal news this year,” said Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization. “But I was delighted to find that the numbers signing the Book of the Elect were higher than last year. It is great to know that God is in charge.”
For information about the RCIA, go to the USCCB official Web site: http://www.usccb.org/comm/rcia/