WASHINGTON, DC - A married couple in their golden years, a couple inspired by their late daughter's legacy, and a salesman who heard Jesus' call to conversion on a stranger's porch, are among the thousands who will be welcomed into the Catholic Church on Easter Vigil, April 15, in parishes across the United States. 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 the Eucharist.
In the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, 175 catechumens and 249 candidates will receive the sacraments. Among them, Mac, 90, and Barb Harless, 85, who will join the Church this Easter after finding their parish, St. John Paul II Church in Cedar Springs, a source of prayer, peace and hope during Barb's battle with cancer.
In the Diocese of Rochester, New York, the RCIA involvement of Dan and Michaela Cady -along with their sons Aidan, 15, Solas, 12, and Merritt, 10 - was spurred by a family tragedy. Two years ago their daughter and sister Kennis, then 12, died suddenly. "It just turned our heads about life," Dan Cady said. He added that his family was grateful for the support it received from the staff of St. Jerome Parish in East Rochester, and from there opted to pursue RCIA. As the Cadys advance on their faith journey, Dan said he's confident his daughter is watching over them: "We would like to think it's orchestrated by her," he said. Some of the family members will receive the sacraments this year, and others next year.
While in Orlando, Florida, Jarrid Perusse of Most Precious Blood Parish in Oviedo said he, "got saved on a porch" during a summer internship as a door-to-door salesman. He realized that God was reaching out to him, and "it was my turn to start reaching back," he said.
About 60 of the nearly 200 dioceses in the United States reported numbers for 2017 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest diocese in the United States, will welcome 1,756 catechumens and 938 candidates; while the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reports 1,667 catechumens and 708 candidates; and the Archdiocese of Washington reports 483 catechumens and 698 candidates.
Other archdioceses report the following totals: Archdiocese of Seattle: 679 catechumens and 409 candidates; Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis: 201 catechumens, 623 candidates; Archdiocese of Philadelphia: 235 catechumens, 322 candidates; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky: 227 catechumens, 279 candidates; Archdiocese of Oklahoma City reports 290 catechumens, 368 candidates; Archdiocese of San Francisco: 174 catechumens, 207 candidates; Archdiocese of Newark: 499 catechumens, 693 candidates; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa: 63 catechumens, 94 candidates; Archdiocese of Miami: 524 catechumens, 214 candidates.
In California, the Diocese of Stockton will welcome 284 candidates and 532 catechumens; Diocese of Oakland reports 176 catechumens and 376 candidates; the Diocese of San Diego reports 333 catechumens and 635 candidates; and the Diocese of Fresno will welcome 593 catechumens and 56 candidates; the Diocese of San Jose reports 496 catechumens and candidates.
In Florida, the Diocese of St. Petersburg reports 456 catechumens and 514 candidates; the Diocese of Orlando reports 586 catechumens and candidates; the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, reports 147 catechumens and 474 candidates.
In New York, the Diocese of Rockville Centre reports 232 catechumens 327 candidates; the Diocese of Rochester reports 96 catechumens and 149 candidates; the Diocese of Buffalo reports 56 catechumens and 105 candidates; the Diocese of Syracuse reports 49 catechumens and 70 candidates.
Other dioceses reporting hundreds of catechumens and candidates include: Diocese of Dallas: 945 catechumens and 1,230 candidates; Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas: 252 catechumens and 324 candidates;Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana: 187 catechumens and 208 candidates; Diocese of Salt Lake City, Utah: 273 catechumens, 153 candidates; Diocese of Tyler, Texas: 120 catechumens and 270 candidates; Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina: 160 catechumens and 317 candidates; Diocese of Pittsburgh: 444 catechumens and candidates; Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 78 catechumens and 241 candidates; Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri: 106 catechumens and 172 candidates; Diocese of Tucson, Arizona: 111 candidates and 209 catechumens; Diocese of Youngstown, Ohio: 97 catechumens and 130 candidates; Diocese of Camden, New Jersey: 174 catechumens; Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey: 195 catechumens and candidates; Diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey: 125 catechumens and 200 candidates; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts: 114 catechumens and 101 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts: 53 catechumens and 105 candidates; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire: 95 candidates and 67 catechumens; Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware: 101 catechumens and 152 candidates; Diocese of Belleville, Illinois: 54 catechumens and 120 candidates; Diocese of Springfield, Illinois: 160 catechumens and 159 candidates; Diocese of Yakima, Washington: 115 catechumens, 145 candidates; Diocese of LaFayette, Louisiana: 55 catechumens and 96 candidates; Diocese of Reno, Nevada: 139 catechumens and 40 candidates; Diocese of Greensburg, Pennsylvania: 92 candidates and 44 catechumens; Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio: 39 catechumens and 52 candidates; Diocese of Rapid City: 27 catechumens, 83 candidates; Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana: 40 catechumens, 89 candidates; the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut: 97 catechumens, 313 candidates; Diocese of Memphis, Tennessee: 60 catechumens, 200 candidates; Diocese of Gaylord, Michigan: 49 catechumens, 63 candidates.
In Minnesota, the Diocese of St. Cloud reports 17 catechumens, 76 candidates; Diocese of Crookston: 8 catechumens, 25 candidates; Diocese of Winona: 42 catechumens, 112 candidates; Diocese of Duluth: 11 catechumens, 69 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 2016 Official Catholic Directory (OCD) totaled 683,712 for the year 2015. The OCD also reported that there were 39,721 adult baptisms and 71,809 people received into full communion during the same year, the latest with complete statistical data.