150,000 in U.S. to Join Church on Holy Saturday

Including 24,000 Who Will Be Baptized

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WASHINGTON, D.C., ARPIL 1, 2004 (Zenit.org).- More than 150,000 Americans will join the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday, through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, says the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Among them, more than 62,000 participated in the Rite of Election with their bishops at the beginning of Lent.

About 24,000 of the group will be baptized, confirmed and receive Communion for the first time at the Easter Vigil, and 36,000, who already have been baptized, will embrace full membership in the Catholic Church.

Another 90,000 or so people celebrated the Rite of Election in their parishes rather than attending the diocesan-wide ceremony, usually held at the cathedral.

«The Rite of Election in my diocese was the highlight of the year,» said Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Oklahoma, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization.

«I worried that the cathedral would be next to empty due to all the scandal news this year, but I was delighted to find that the numbers signing the Book of the Elect were higher than last year,» he said. «It is great to know that God is in charge.»

The numbers at the diocesan ceremonies are based on an early March survey by the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization. About three-quarters of the dioceses responded by March 25.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, RCIA, is an ancient rite that was reinstituted in the Church following the Second Vatican Council. It is the usual means for adults to come into the Church.

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