1300+ to Join the Church Here at Easter Vigil
In an ancient custom revived after the Second Vatican Council, people who have never been baptized join the Church through baptism and confirmation as part of the long Saturday night liturgy ushering in Easter. People who have been baptized elsewhere enter full communion with the Church at the same time, receiving confirmation with the new Christians. Both groups receive the Eucharist for the first time.
Reception into the Church is normally preceded by a formal program that lasts several months: the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA. Each parish runs its own program designed for its particular needs, but all culminate at Lent, when the candidates declare their intention to join the Church and the Church accepts them, and at Easter, when they are received.
Dioceses around the world mark the Rite of Election (for new Christians) and the related Call to Continuing Conversion (for baptized Christians) at the beginning of Lent, bringing their candidates together for a solemn celebration. While the history of a 40-day period of fasting, penance, and sacrifice before Easter goes back to the time of the apostles, initiation of new Christians has always been part of the season, says Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
“This season of the Church year is dedicated in a particular way to the final preparation period of men, women, and children seeking to celebrate the sacraments of initiation at Easter,” he explains. “The Rite of Election is an opportunity for the men, women, and children who have been involved in the initiation process in their parish communities to experience a sense of being incorporated into the larger Roman Catholic community as hundreds of people join in this celebration with them.”
The Diocese of Covington celebrated the at its Cathedral, while the larger Archdiocese of Cincinnati held four celebrations at two locations: at the Cathedral in Downtown Cincinnati, and at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church in Dayton.
While the Easter Vigil is the normal way for baptized people to enter the Church, people may also enter throughout the year if they are prepared, as is often the case with people who have attended Mass for many years with their Catholic families, or people joining the Church after a great deal of study. Andriacco says 69 people have been received into the Church in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since last Easter.
Photo courtesy The Catholic Telegraph.