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Thousands of Americans to join Catholic Church on Holy Saturday

.- Thousands of Americans will join the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday, April 15, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). They will be baptized, confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the first time. Others, who already have been baptized in another Christian church, will embrace full membership in the Catholic Church.

At press time, the total number of adults being welcomed into the Catholic Church in 2006 was not available. However, some dioceses have submitted their reports. In Denver, 700 people will be baptized and 1,400 will come into full communion. In Galveston-Houston in Texas, 1,090 will be baptized and 905 will come into full communion. The Archdiocese for Military Services reports it will baptize 425 and welcome 515 into full communion.

“The Rite of Election [which precedes baptism] is always a moving experience as new life comes into the Church,” said Bishop Sam Jacobs of Houma-Thibodeaux, Louisiana, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization.

“It is a sign of the work of the Holy Spirit and of the witness of faith that Catholic men and women give every day. Virtually all who come into the Church note that they were drawn to the Catholic Church by a friend, relative or acquaintance who quietly lives out the Christian life,” he said.

People come to the Catholic Church in a variety of ways. Some are inspired by other family members, including spouses, who already are Catholic. Others find the Catholic Church during a spiritual search. Others seek to return to the Church of their baptism. The RCIA candidates come from all walks of life and are of all ages.

Martin White is CEO of MDU Resources, a Fortune 500 company with earnings over one billion dollars last year. He and his wife, Sheila, followed the RCIA with the Benedictine Sisters at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, where he will soon become dean of the college’s new school of business.

At St. Elizabeth Parish in rural Richfield, Utah, one RCIA candidate is an 87-year-old man whose daughter and family joined the Church a few years ago; another is a young woman who was deeply touched by Pope John Paul II’s death, and another is a 19-year-old man who graduated from high school last year.

Adults will enter the Church in every diocese of the country and in virtually every parish. In 2005, 80,521 adults were baptized in the Catholic Church and 73,296 came into full communion.

The RCIA is an ancient rite that was reinstituted in the Church following the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It is the usual means for adults to come into the Church.

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