Church to Welcome 150,000 New Members

WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 20, 2005 ( More than 150,000 Americans will join the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday, reported the U.S. bishops.

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With 87% of the U.S. dioceses reporting, the 2005 numbers exceed those of 2004.

Backgrounds of the people seeking to be baptized or to enter into full communion in the church by receiving First Communion and/or confirmation, vary.

The bishops report that several young, single people, like a 19-year-old in Mississippi, are joining the Church, as well as entire families and a man who has been attending mass for more than 30 years.

David Reid, who won a gold medal in boxing at the 1996 Olympics, will enter the church in Michigan. He grew up Baptist and then became Muslim before finding the Catholic Church.

The numbers reported by the bishops are based on an early March survey by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Evangelization.

“People’s stories touch the heart,” said Paulist Father John Hurley, executive director of the Evangelization Secretariat.

“The Rite of Initiation during the Holy Saturday service inspires everyone in the church,” he said.

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