WASHINGTON–As many as 150,000 new or returning Catholics are expected to join the Catholic Church in 2009 in the United States. Many of them will do so at the Easter Vigil liturgies, April 11, in parishes across the country.
In some cases the numbers show the growth and vitality of the Catholic Church in places where it has traditionally been a small minority. For instance, the Archdiocese of Atlanta estimates that 513 catechumens and 2,195 candidates will join the ranks of the Archdiocese in 2009. About 1,800 of them will do so at Easter. These numbers do not include infant baptisms, which are recorded separately.
Catechumens are people who have never been baptized. Candidates are those who have received baptism in another Christian community and are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. [reference]
I certainly rejoice in each and every person joining or returning to the Catholic Church. But this number is not all that impressive compared to the past. In 1960 there was almost the same number (146,212). Yet in 1960 the population was over 120 million people less. Then again the number is almost double of what it was in 2002 with 79,892 and this year is a high water mark since the cultural turmoil of the sixties. Funny how all the “relevance” and “engaging the culture” didn’t quite work out as planned.