Monday, March 06, 2006

The Rites of Election

The first weekend of Lent always brings the "Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion" -- the "beginning of the end" of the RCIA process, when adult converts (and those who were baptized as children but didn't complete their initiation) are welcomed by the bishop of the local church, usually in the Cathedral.

In large dioceses, the Rite of Election is usually spread out over several ceremonies given the size of the diocesan-wide convert class, and bishops always enjoy the moment as it's one of the biggest events of the year, and it enables a "hands-on" feeling of welcoming the new intake....

There were more than 1,000 in Washington yesterday.

I'm reminded that, in the midst of the horror of 2002, something incredibly notable was the number of journalists who, in covering the abuse scandal, found something beautiful in things Catholic. Several converted at a notable clip.....
More than 1,000 children, teenagers and adults filled the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast yesterday to prepare to enter the Catholic Church this Easter.

Children and adults and their families and friends joined church officials in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion, a liturgy marking the final period of preparation before the sacraments of initiation at Easter. The liturgy is held each year on the first Sunday of Lent.

As many as 1,233 people are expected to enter the Catholic Church this Easter, the largest number in recent years, officials with the Archdiocese of Washington said yesterday.

"Welcome to full Communion," said Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, after each of the two ceremonies held yesterday afternoon. "You knew you needed something more than you had. ... Somehow, over all the noise of the world, you heard the Lord say, 'I want you to hear I love you, and I want you to come into My family.'?"

As many as 526 persons will be baptized for the first time during Easter Vigil, which this year falls on the weekend of April 16.

About 350 of those who will become Catholics are children and teenagers.

There were 1,037 new Catholics at Easter last year; 1,123, in 2004; and 982 in 2003, officials said.

In 2004, more than 155,000 adults in the U.S. were baptized or confirmed as Catholics.