WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 29, 2010 (Zenit.org).- This Easter, thousands are planning to become Catholic, including a man who almost lost his life five times.
The U.S. bishops’ conference shared the story of Jeremy Feldbusch, 30, from Blairsville, Pennsylvania, who is among the thousands preparing to enter the Church Saturday evening.
Feldbusch was in the armed services in Iraq, and on April 3, 2003, he was wounded with shrapnel from the conflict, which resulted in blindness in both eyes and traumatic brain injury.
He was expected to die shortly after, or if he lived, to sustain extensive brain damage. Doctors put him into a coma with a ventilator for six weeks in order to reduce brain swelling.
The medical professionals attempted to remove the ventilator five times, but on each attempt, Feldbusch “died” and had to be resuscitated. On the sixth try, he finally regained consciousness.
The patient, who had been baptized a Methodist, asked his father, “Why did God take my eyesight?”
His father replied with a different question, “Why did God let you live?”
The bishops’ conference reported that through the process of rehabilitation, Feldbusch “began to think that things happen for a reason and resolved to spend his life helping other wounded service members.”
He decided to enter the Catholic Church, and will be received on Saturday, the 7th anniversary of his life-changing injury in Iraq.
The conference press release noted that thousands more will join Feldbusch, with especially high numbers of new Catholics expected in the South and Southwest regions of the United States.
The Diocese of Dallas, Texas, is preparing to receive 3,000 new Catholics. Of these, 700 are catechumens (never before baptized) and 2,300 are candidates (already validly baptized into the Christian faith, but seeking full communion with the Church).
Also in Texas, the Archdiocese of San Antonio is reporting that 1,112 people will enter the Church. A good number of these are young people, who have already reached the age of reason, including 214 child catechumens and 124 candidates.
The Diocese of Forth Worth in that same state will welcome around the same number of new Catholics.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta is preparing for 1,800 new Church members, which is the largest group ever recorded for that region, the press release reported.
On the West Coast, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is the largest diocese nationwide, will receive 2,400 new members.
In Seattle, 682 people will be baptized into the Church, and 479 welcomed into full communion.
The Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, will welcome 842 new Catholics.
Other dioceses who are expecting over a thousand new members are: Detroit, Michigan (1,225); Cincinnati, Ohio (1,049); Denver, Colorado (1,102); Arlington, Virginia (1,100); Washington, D.C. (1,150).
In the Archdiocese of Washington, 18 of those preparing to enter the Church are students from St. Augustine School, the oldest African American school in the nation’s capital.
The conference communiqué noted that the Catholic Church, which is the largest denomination in the United States, with over 68 million members, has shown a 1.5% increase in membership numbers this past year.