WASHINGTON--A widower honoring his late wife and a Chinese graduate student are among the thousands of new Catholics joining the Catholic Church in the United States at Easter. All have participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), a process of conversion and study in the Catholic faith for catechumens and candidates coming into full communion with the 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 whose baptism is recognized by the Catholic Church, will enter the Church through a profession of faith and reception of confirmation and Eucharist.
David Cupp, a candidate from the Archdiocese of Detroit who admits he had not "practiced much of anything for years," came to the Catholic Church after the sudden death of his wife of 40 years, who was a devoted Catholic. He is grateful for his new journey in the Catholic Church despite his circumstances. "What keeps you sane is that you have to believe that there is a true God," Cupp says. He is one of 520 catechumens and 660 candidates in the archdiocese who will receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil.
Only a few months ago, an online video of the Ave Maria moved Jian Wang, a civil engineering student at Rutgers University, to become Catholic. He is a native of China who is no stranger to hardship and poverty. At age 2, his mother left the home and while in college, he lost his father. A simple Google search got him in touch with the university's Catholic Center where his journey to become Catholic began.
Wang is among 114 catechumens and 156 candidates from the Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey, looking forward to receiving the sacraments. As in many communities around the country, a growth in cultural diversity is reflected in the diocese, where some of the catechumens and candidates come from different countries. Some churches are preparing celebrations and initiations that will include languages such as Chinese, Korean and Spanish.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will welcome about 2,300 catechumens and candidates. The Archdiocese of Washington will welcome 1,306 new Catholics, the largest number of candidates and catechumens in its history. Also welcoming large numbers of converts this year are the Archdiocese of Atlanta, with 1,913 new Catholics; the Archdiocese of Los Angeles with 1,666; the Archdiocese of New York with 1,350; the Diocese of Raleigh with 1,200; the Archdiocese of Newark with 1,075; the Archdiocese of Seattle with 1,045; the Archdiocese of Chicago with 950; and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati with 946.
Other dioceses reporting hundreds of catechumens and candidates include: Oklahoma City (283 catechumens, 485 candidates); Austin, Texas (374 catechumens, 416 candidates); Baltimore (238 catechumens, 462 candidates); Columbus, Ohio (239 catechumens, 331 candidates); Philadelphia (309 catechumens, 386 candidates); Lansing, Michigan (295 catechumens, 351 candidates) Boston (650 new members); Milwaukee (642 new members) St. Augustine, Florida (592 new members); Grand Rapids, Michigan (506 new members) Mobile, Alabama (482 new members); Omaha, Nebraska (168 catechumens, 312 candidates); Lafayette, Indiana (158 catechumens, 225 candidates).
These numbers are based on participation in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, the final phase of the RCIA process celebrated at the beginning of Lent.
Not included are infant baptisms that according to the 2013 Official Catholic Directory (OCD) totaled 763,208 for the year 2012. The OCD also reported that there were 41,918 adult baptisms and 71,582 people received into full communion during the same year, the latest with complete statistical data.