Washington, D. C. – Dioceses across the country will be welcoming thousands of people into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil Masses on the evening of April 20th. As the culmination of the Easter Triduum, the Vigil celebrates the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While people can become Catholic at any time of the year, the Easter Vigil is a particularly appropriate moment for adult catechumens to be baptized and for already-baptized Christians to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
Many of the dioceses across the nation have reported their numbers of people who intend to become Catholic on Saturday to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Based on these reports, more than 37,000 people are expected to be welcomed into the Church at Easter Vigil Masses.
Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. Then during the RCIA process, which typically lasts nine months or more, a person learns the teachings of the Catholic Church in a more formal way and discerns that he or she is ready to commit to living according to these beliefs. Thousands of people have already passed through this process and are ready to take this step on Saturday in parishes throughout the country.
Two distinct groups of people will be initiated into the Catholic Church. Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive Baptism, Confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. Candidates, who have already been baptized in another Christian tradition, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
For example, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest in the United States, will welcome 1,560 catechumens and 913 candidates; the Archdiocese of San Francisco will welcome 174 catechumens and 175 candidates; and the Diocese of San Diego will welcome 306 catechumens and 806 candidates.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will welcome 1,512 catechumens and 631 candidates.
Among them will be Alfredo Acosta, who is experiencing both intense sorrow and joy over the past two years that led him to become a Catholic. He suffered the loss of his two younger brothers who passed away, but then he also celebrated the birth of his son, Benjamin, now 18-months old. “My wife Gricelda is a cradle Catholic. She was born into her faith. Then we baptized our son last year, so I wanted to be able to share our faith with both of them,” Acosta said. Other catechumens and candidates say they were also inspired by the witness of Catholics in their lives
Other archdioceses and dioceses report numbers as follows: Archdiocese of Washington: 455 catechumens and 183 candidates; Atlanta: 645 catechumens, 1,181 candidates; Dallas: 1,196 catechumens, 1,399 candidates; Fort Worth: 600 catechumens, 500 candidates; Corpus Christi: 130 catechumens, 43 candidates; Tyler: 101 catechumens, 190 candidates; Charlotte: 724 catechumens, 1,284 candidates; Venice in Florida: 148 catechumens, 120 candidates; Archdiocese of New Orleans: 152 catechumens, 161 candidates; Columbus: 173 catechumens, 227 candidates; Erie: 51 catechumens, 80 candidates; Baton Rouge: 158 catechumens, 300 candidates; Orlando: 514 catechumens, 482 candidates; Monterrey: 297 catechumens; Crookston: 7 catechumens, 33 candidates; St. Augustine: 174 catechumens, 315 candidates; Rockville Centre: 272 catechumens; Arlington, VA: 285 catechumens, 277 candidates; Salina: 33 catechumens, 88 candidates; Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: 205 catechumens, 319 candidates; Archdiocese of Newark: 411 catechumens, 58 candidates; Archdiocese of Oklahoma City: 262 catechumens, 324 candidates; Syracuse: 48 catechumens, 59 candidates.
The Archdiocese of Seattle reports 769 catechumens and 424 candidates; Salt Lake City: 227 catechumens, 107 candidates; Yakima: 255 catechumens, 40 candidates; Little Rock: 272 catechumens, 324 candidates; Archdiocese of Louisville: 185 catechumens, 191 candidates; Davenport: 63 catechumens, 85 candidates; Archdiocese of Denver: 462 catechumens, 348 candidates; Albany: 55 catechumens, 86 candidates; Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 196 catechumens, 267 candidates; Tucson: 136 catechumens, 179 candidates; Savannah: 80 catechumens, 231 candidates; Steubenville: 26 catechumens, 67 candidates; Gallup, New Mexico: 75 catechumens/candidates; Harrisburg: 92 catechumens.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati will be welcoming 322 catechumens, 403 candidates; Santa Rosa: 54 catechumens, 22 candidates; Trenton: 161 catechumens, 114 candidates; Honolulu: 197 catechumens, 184 candidates; Rochester: 62 catechumens, 112 candidates; Wichita: 123 catechumens, 234 candidates; Bridgeport: 71 catechumens, 210 candidates and Grand Rapids 171 catechumens, 186 candidates.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh reports: 101 catechumens, 161 candidates; Owensboro: 91 catechumens, 135 candidates; Lexington: 111 catechumens, 74 candidates; Archdiocese of Boston: 288 catechumens, 182 candidates; Covington: 65 catechumens, 121 candidates; Palm Beach: 152 catechumens, 464 candidates; Evansville: 81 catechumens, 94 candidates; Springfield, IL: 102 catechumens; 100 candidates; Manchester: 50 catechumens; Wilmington: 76 catechumens, 122 candidates; Archdiocese of Indianapolis: 330 catechumens, 465 candidates.
Additionally, the Diocese of Worcester reports 95 catechumens, 34 candidates; Belleville: 44 catechumens, 74 candidates; Lafayette: 63 catechumens, 93 candidates; Portland in Maine: 65 catechumens, 57 candidates; Houma-Thibodaux: 37 catechumens, 41 candidates; Yakima: 255 catechumens, 40 candidates; Youngstown, Ohio: 86 catechumens, 116 candidates; Des Moines; 97 catechumens, 131 candidates; Springfield, MA: 43 catechumens, 56 candidates; Paterson: 114 catechumens.
The Archdiocese of Baltimore will receive 227 catechumens, 410 candidates; Biloxi: 72 catechumens, 135 candidates; Green Bay, WI: 40 catechumens, 78 candidates; Shreveport: 27 catechumens, 94 candidates; Kansas City-St. Joseph: 160 catechumens, 155 candidates; Camden: 126 catechumens; Fall River: 43 catechumens, 65 candidates; Jefferson City: 100 catechumens; 165 candidates; Saginaw: 60 catechumens, 53 candidates; Cleveland: 251 catechumens, 270 candidates; Gary: 50 catechumens, 100 candidates.
The Archdiocese of Anchorage will also be welcoming 39 catechumens, 34 candidates; Bismarck: 16 catechumens, 44 candidates; St. Cloud: 17 catechumens, 40 candidates; New Ulm: 8 catechumens, 28 candidates; Great Falls-Billings: 38 catechumens, 60 candidates; Peoria: 82 catechumens, 196 candidates; Lake Charles: 61 catechumens, 141 candidates; Kalamazoo Michigan: 55 catechumens, 46 candidates.