Archbishop Wuerl Presides at Rites for Nearly 1,200 People Joining Catholic Faith, Reflecting Pope Benedict XVI’s Message of Hope

February 13, 2008

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl is gathering with nearly 1,200 teens and adults who will be baptized or confirmed as Catholic this Easter during two ceremonies held this month and known as the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. The next will be held:

Sunday, February 17, 2008
3:00 p.m.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
400 Michigan Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20017

The event marks the participants’ desire to become Catholic and kicks off a final period of intense spiritual preparation. The Rite takes on particular resonance this year in light of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent encyclical on hope and the papal visit to the United States in April.

“As the Holy Father said, ‘The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.’ Those participating in the Rite of Election reflect this hope and the vibrancy of the Church,” said Archbishop Wuerl. “They also remind those of us who are already Catholic to renew our faith in the teachings of Christ.”

Because of the large numbers of people this year, the Archdiocese of Washington is holding two ceremonies. One already took place on February 10, and one will be held on February 17. During the two Rites of Election, godparents for nearly 500 non-Christians (catechumens) vouch that the catechumens are ready to be baptized. After asking the catechumens if this is what they want, Archbishop Wuerl declares them “the Elect,” who have been chosen by God to enter the Church. Similarly, the Archbishop formally recognizes the readiness of the nearly 700 already-baptized Christians (candidates) to be confirmed as Catholics.

Last year, the number of adults seeking to join the Catholic Church increased almost 8.5% nationwide, with 155,439 adults received into the Church in 2007 compared to 143,281 in 2006.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]