"I think very often those who have been away from the sacrament for a long time are very often surprised and delighted to find it such a positive and affirming experience," the respondent said.
"People just recently, who were expecting to struggle, or be met by an indifferent response from the priest, were struck how their experience was completely different. It is one of the many positive signs concerning the sacrament."
Study participants said that many returning Catholics did not know what to say and some feared not knowing the prayers.
The survey found increased attendance at some weekday and Sunday Masses. Some people have become interested in becoming Catholic after Catholic friends and family brought them to church.
Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton, who heads the England and Wales bishops' Department for Evangelization and Catechesis, has called on every parish to reach out to the countries' four million baptized Catholics who rarely or never attend Mass, the bishops' conference reports.
"While the lapsation of baptized is not new within the Catholic community, the worry and anxiety experienced by parents, siblings and grandparents of non-churchgoing baptized, is deep and heartfelt," Bishop Conry said Sept. 2. "We all hold in our hearts at least one person in our family who seems disconnected from the life of the Church."
He encouraged practicing Catholics to use materials available at their parish church to help them reach out to non-practicing Catholics. He invited lapsed Catholics to come back to church and not be "afraid to embarrass themselves by doing the wrong thing."
"I would say to them, don't worry, come in and see. Sit at the back and do what the rest do. You might be pleasantly surprised."
The Catholic Church in England and Wales observes Home Mission Sunday this Sept. 15, a day of prayer and celebration for the work of evangelization.
Bishop Conry told the Daily Telegraph that "significant numbers" of young people are going to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. He said this is "a good sign" that means they are connected with church even if they are sometimes not regular Sunday massgoers.
He said confession has moved away from having a "mechanistic shopping list" approach of listing one's sins and more a way to improve one's relationship with God.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.