150,000 Americans Expected to Join Catholic Church on Holy Saturday

( [email protected] ) Mar 31, 2004 03:02 PM EST

Some 150,000 Americans are expected to join the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday, April 10, for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The ceremony allows adults to become Catholics through confirmations and baptisms.

Of the 150,000, 62,000 have already participated in the Rite of Election with their bishops at the beginning of Lent.

"The Rite of Election in my diocese was the highlight of the year," said Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, 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. It is great to know that God is in charge."

Another 24,000 of the group will be baptized for the first time on the Holy Saturday. The rest, 36,000, are those who have already been baptized, but want to embrace full membership into the Catholic Church.

"People's stories are moving," 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. Congregants, who observe newcomers being baptized, confirmed and receiving the Eucharist for the first time, recall the precious gift of faith and the union with Jesus to which people are called. This indeed is good news in challenging times."