While we continue to hear about fallen-away Catholics, more than 30,000 will enter the Church during the Easter Vigil Masses in the U.S. this Saturday. That’s enough for a small city!
That number is based on 85 of the nearly 200 dioceses reporting to the United States Conference of Bishops, so there are certainly much more than just that. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will welcome nearly 3,000 people into the Church; 1,700 catechumens and 1,127 candidates. In the Galveston-Houston archdiocese, more than 2,000 will become Catholic.
The Easter Vigil Mass is the first Mass of Easter on Saturday evening, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Catechumens, who have never been baptized, will receive baptism, confirmation and first Communion and those already baptized in another Christian tradition recognized as valid by the Catholic Church, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of confirmation and the Eucharist.
Although people can enter the Church throughout the year, it is customary during the Easter Vigil.
“Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word," (CCC 1213 ).
Welcome Our Brothers and Sisters
We can make our new Catholic brothers and sisters feel at home in their new Church. Catholics have a bit of a reputation for keeping to themselves, so it might take a little push. If that’s the case, pray to God for the courage and inspiration for how best to welcome new Catholics in your parish. Here are some suggestions.
1. If you attend the Easter Vigil, go up and congratulate them after Mass. Continue to be friendly and greet them after other Masses or on the street.
2. Invite them to your prayer group or Bible study.
3. Do you have a favorite book to inspire a new Catholic? If you have the means, no one is going to be offended if you hand out such gifts to help celebrate.
4. Print out this form for a free 6-month subscription to the National Catholic Register. Anyone can take advantage of the offer, but what a great way for a new Catholic to become informed on news relevant to the Church.
5. Share the Good News! Every Catholic can benefit in a big way by starting the day with a short summary of the news from a Catholic perspective, along with inspiration, trivia, and a whole assortment of inspiration—all of it brief to fit easily into the day. Go here to sign them up, or yourself.
6. Give them a card to congratulate them with a short note. Include your phone number or email. You can also write down the websites for the 6-month National Catholic Register trial subscription or to sign up for the Good News letter.
7. Enroll them up for a year of Masses and give them a card. Call your parish office for the names. If the parish secretary doesn’t know you, you might have to verify that you are a parishioner and not some stalker. There are many orders who enroll people in memberships and parishes which will take names to have a Mass said.
8. Pray for them. They could use the prayers to stay the course.
9. Light a candle for for all the new Catholics.
10. Hand them a favorite holy card. Catholic books stores have them or order them online. It might be too late to arrive in time for the Easter Vigil, but you can hand them out later if you know who the new Catholics are or order them now to be ready for next year.
Let us praise God and pray for those entering the Church. “Dear Lord, we pray for all new Catholics. May they be strengthened and blessed in the faith and grow ever closer to you. Help us to support them through our prayers and friendships. And use us and them, according to your will to lead others home to the Church.”
Go to the USCCB website to see specific numbers for all the US dioceses.
For more inspiration check out the Amazing Grace Series. Follow Patti at Twitter and Pinterest, like her pages at Dear God Books, Big Hearted Families, Catholic News & Inspiration on Facebook, and her author Facebook page. Sign up at the right column to receive articles in your inbox. God bless you!
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