Catholics Urged to Welcome New Church Members

US Bishops Offer 10 Ways to Receive Catechumens

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WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 22, 2010 ( This Easter, thousands will enter the Catholic Church, and the U.S. bishops are encouraging all the faithful to find ways to welcome the newest members, starting now.

The bishops’ conference publicized today a list of ten suggestions, developed by Father Richard Hilgartner, assistant director of the Secretariat of Divine Worship, for building this welcoming attitude.

A conference communiqué explained that Lent is the moment of final preparation for those who will receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil Mass.

It encouraged parishes to begin praying now for the candidates and catechumens who are preparing for these sacraments, even inviting the faithful to commit to pray for a particular person.

Another suggestion detailed in the list is to «listen,» as the «journey of those in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults can be an example for all.»

The steps of those who are taking «concrete steps» to follow God can «inspire, especially during Lent as Christians strive to follow the Lord more closely,» Father Hilgartner noted.

He invited Catholics to participate in the various public rituals leading up to Easter, and the Vigil Mass in particular.

The priest encouraged the faithful to cultivate a welcoming spirit, to be a witness to the new Catholics, and to invite them to grow deeper in the life of the Church.

He underlined the message of ongoing conversion for all Christians, which is manifested in the conversion of those people who are baptized but desiring full communion in the Catholic Church.

These people «remind Christians that all are called to follow the Lord, who is always speaking and calling people to repentance — ongoing conversion and a change of heart — resulting in more authentic disciples,» Father Hilgartner stated.

He affirmed that the newest Church members remind all Catholics that the period after baptism — which is «ongoing and essentially what all members of the Church do throughout our lives» — is a time to continually «grow deeper in faith and relationship with Christ, constantly discerning his will.»

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