Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Many Find the Church Through the RCIA

Each year, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio celebrates the Easter Vigil in the parish where there are the most baptisms produced by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. This year, St. John Vianney in Flushing was the big winner with 60 new Catholics entering the Church. An additional 14 will be baptized on Pentecost Sunday. In most parishes, that number usually is a single digit, so 60 is a big number. All the catechumens were Chinese, reflecting the large numbers of Asians who are coming to the Diocese. The Easter Vigil marked the culmination of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process of conversion and study in the Catholic faith for catechumens, who have never been baptized, and candidates, who were baptized in another Christian denomination and want to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. The catechumens received baptism, confirmation and first Communion at the Holy Saturday services, while the candidates made a profession of faith and received confirmation and the Eucharist. Bishop DiMarzio, in his Chrism Mass homily, had pointed out there are 400,000 people of Chinese descent living in Brooklyn and Queens. It’s fertile ground for the New Evangelization. He also lauded efforts at Regina Pacis, Bensonhurst; St. Agatha, Sunset Park; and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica, Sunset Park, for evangelization efforts among the Chinese. Father Antonius Ho, CSJB, administrator of St. John Vianney, smiled proudly as he welcomed the bishop. He said the parish will maintain a strong RCIA program so that perhaps Bishop DiMarzio will return next Easter Sunday. Across the diocese, there were almost 950 catechumens and candidates for the first sacraments who entered full communion with the Catholic Church this Easter. It’s one of the most successful programs in the diocese. Its success is in keeping with trends across the country as the numbers of people joining the Church keep rising. In the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas, 2,393 people were welcomed. Other archdioceses with large numbers include New York, 1,470; San Antonio, Texas, 1,165; and Washington, DC, 1,166, its second largest class in the past ten years; Baltimore, 702, representing a 10% increase over last year; and Portland, Oregon, 783. Dioceses reporting notable gains are: Fort Worth, Texas, 1,121; St. Petersburg, Fla., 963; and Rockville Centre, 689. The figures do not include infant baptisms, which numbered 830,673, according to the 2011 Official Catholic Directory. The 2011 directory also reported that there were 43,335 adult baptisms and 72,859 baptized Christians received into full communion with the Catholic Church. Much of what you read in the secular press is bad news about the Church. What is being missed are the good news stories like RCIA, which say that people still come to the Church as the path to personal salvation. What happened at St. John Vianney Church last Saturday evening was repeated, albeit in smaller numbers, all across the diocese. Diocesan history is the story of immigrants constantly coming here to seek new life. They continue to do so and so many of them seek out the Catholic Church.

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