More than 1,000 to be Welcomed into the Catholic Church this Easter in Archdiocese of Washington

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Easter, more than 1,000 adults, teens, and children will be baptized or confirmed as Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington. At the beginning of Lent, the period of penance, fasting, and conversion observed by Catholics leading up to the celebration of Easter, those being received into the Catholic Church are presented to the local bishop in the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. This liturgy, where participants publicly express their desire to become Catholic, begins the final period of intense spiritual preparation. In the Archdiocese of Washington, the liturgy is held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on two consecutive Sundays due to the large number of participants who attended from 102 parishes and five university campuses.

In his homily today, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington reminded the catechumens (those who are seeking the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist) and candidates (those who have already been baptized, and are now seeking the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist) that their call to conversion was a visible sign of their response to the Lord’s invitation, “Come, follow me.”

The Holy Spirit transforms fears and changes lives, the cardinal said in his homily. He then said each of the individuals who were seeking to enter the Church had a different experience with how they were inspired to take this step – it may have been through the witness and example of a family member, a spouse, a fiancé, a friend, a co-worker, or neighbor. “What you have experienced is what Saint Paul is writing about in his First Letter to the Corinthians. It is not with sublimity of words or wisdom that we are drawn to Christ and his Church. Rather, we have come to recognize the mystery of God’s love for us in the lives of those around us,” said Cardinal Wuerl. The everyday work of evangelization is to help others experience the joy of being close to God because we desire to share with them what God has come to mean in our lives, he continued.

The Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion is a public commitment to step forward and become one with Christ in his Church through the sacraments of initiation, the cardinal said, and reminded them that as they continue on their Lenten journey, they do not walk alone, because the godparents and sponsors represent a small part of the large faith family that are waiting to welcome them on Easter, he said as he concluded his homily.

After the homily, the elect and candidates were presented to the cardinal and approached the sanctuary where he welcomed them personally. At the Easter Vigil on April 20, the celebration of the sacraments of initiation will take place, and the elect will celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist while the candidates will celebrate Confirmation and the Eucharist.