Rise in number of new Catholics to be baptised at Easter

The Catholic Church will benefit from many new Catholics in different parts of the world this Easter.

As an example, over a thousand people took part in Rites of Election at cathedrals and churches across England and Wales last weekend. All declared their hope to become Catholics at Easter. Most dioceses in the UK have an increase in the number of baptisms planned for this Easter.

At the same time, in Cambodia’s capital, the Vicariate of Phnom Penh celebrated the decisive call and presentation of 154 adults who be baptised on Easter Saturday.

At the same time, numerous baptisms will be taking place elsewhere across the globe.

The Rite of Election usually takes place at the beginning of Lent. It is one of the final stages in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

The RCIA programme prepares converts for Confirmation or reception into full communion with the Church at the Easter Vigil.

Although the number of people attending Rites of Election is usually lower than the number of people eventually received, it provides a rough picture of the number of conversions ongoing within the Church.

At Westminster Cathedral more than 400 people attended Rites of Election on Saturday and Sunday. Of those, 200 were catechumens (non-Christians who have never been baptised).

A further 219 were candidates. These are people who have been baptised before but want to enter full communion with the Church.

Catholics have a responsibility to look after and accompany the newly baptised, Cardinal Vincent Nichols told over 400 catechumens and candidates at Westminster Cathedral.

“We give thanks to God for the ways in which our parishes and diocesan family will be enriched by you and we promise to continue to support you and your families with our prayers and the example of Christian life that you experience in our parish communities.”

In Phnom Penh, the Apostolic Vicar, Mgr Olivier Schmitthaeusler, also said the support of the whole Catholic community is fundamental for the newly baptised.

He appealed to the priests, godparents and those who have already received baptism to “be close to your catechumens. Love them and accompany them. Enlighten them, so that they may see another Christ in you”.

Schmitthaeusler said looking after catechumens “is a mission that the Church entrusts to you through your ministry and which must be the priority in the coming weeks.

“Be the Church that welcomes the future baptised, who will be full members of our family and open the doors of your heart to the cries and miseries of our society. Your witness as Christians will be truer and more effective than any beautiful words about the mission. If not, our Church will be a Church of good intentions and not bear fruit.”


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