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Catechumen roundup: Thousands baptized worldwide on Easter

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Corinne SIMON/CIRIC

J-P Mauro - published on 04/12/24

Dioceses around the world reported enormous classes of catechumens entering the Church in 2024.

The Catholic Church grew by thousands during Easter 2024, with catechumen classes in the hundreds appearing around the world. This revitalized interest in the Church was seen at nearly the same levels in Western nations that afford a high level of religious freedom as it was in regions where Christian persecution has risen in recent years.

United States

Several reports have emerged showing enormous groups of catechumens baptized at Easter Vigil liturgies. The Archdiocese of Baltimore reportedwelcoming 663 new Catholics into the Church, which represents an increase of about 50% from the 437 baptized in 2023. At the Vigil Mass, Archbishop William E. Lori commented: 

“And let those of us who have been Catholic Christians our whole life long rejoice,” the Bishop said, “rejoice as new members are incorporated into the Body of Christ, rejoice as we are renewed in our own baptism, rejoice as we promise anew to life as children of the light, rejoice as we share the banquet of Christ’s sacrifice with the newly initiated.”

Meanwhile, on the West coast, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles saw a record number of catechumens enter the Church. According to Angelus News, the class broke the record at 2,075, a 38% increase from the previous high of 1,508, in 2016. Additionally, there were 1,521 candidates (or those who are baptized, but still in faith formation), a group that grew by 20% since 2016. The record number of candidates within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was 1,719, in 2023. 

France

France saw tremendous growth despite challenges to the faith there, with more than 12,000 baptisms. According to Rome Reports, the split was about 7,000 adults and more than 5,000 teenagers who were welcomed into the Catholic faith. This enormous incoming class of catechumens comes as the Church in France has been struggling to fill the pews amidst dwindling national interest in religion. 

The report cites data from the French National Service for Catechesis and the Catechumenate, which shows an increase in “the search for answers to life’s questions” in the 18-25 age-group, during the pandemic years. Now, five years after the initial spread of Covid-19, this is the group growing in its faith the most, representing 36% of the newly baptized

Cardinal François-Xavier Bustillo, Bishop of Ajaccio, commented in an interview with Rome Reports:

“Many people my age — 55 and older — find themselves feeling empty, and young people are searching. A secularized society is a society in which there is an emptiness, but there is also a search for meaning, for a zest for life. And today’s young people are asking themselves: but what am I living for?”

Nigeria

This Church in Africa made the list of large catechumen classes, welcoming more than 700 into the Church on Easter Sunday. CNA reports that the baptisms took place in the Diocese of Katsina, where there has been a rise in attacks that target Christian communities. 

This was the first Easter for the budding Katsina diocese, officially formed in October 2023. Bishop Gerald Mamman Musa expressed his joy to see priests gathered in the cathedral to baptize catechumens for the first time. He also noted his gratitude that the Church in Nigeria is growing despite the continued fierce anti-Christian persecution:

“Despite the insecurity challenges we face as a diocese, we had over 700 people who were baptized and received holy Communion. That is an incredible number,” Bishop Musa said. “This tells us that in little ways, God is at work. Even in places that are remote, even in places that you think are having a Christian minority, God is at work.”

Australia

The Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, was thrilled to welcome 266 catechumens into the Church, an increase of nearly 60% from 2021. Aleteia previously reported that much of the credit for the archdiocese’s growth has been attributed to its “Go Make Disciples” campaign, an initiative driven by five points: evangelization, leadership, community, training, and worship.

The initiative seeks to form stronger connections with incoming catechumens by adding a personal touch. The archdiocese has opened “listening centers” where those interested in entering the Church are assigned to lay ministers who keep track of them and ensure that requests do not get lost or suffer delays. Spread across 46 parishes, the structure of the system offers a great deal of support and engagement to keep the newcomers on track. 

Shanghai 

In Shanghai, China, Easter Sunday saw an additional 470 catechumens enter the Church. Agenzia Fides reports that 349 of these were not just baptized, but received all three sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. Additionally, Beijing saw 142 baptisms on Easter Sunday, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. 

Shortly after Easter Sunday, on April 4, Bishop Jin Yangke of Ningbo inaugurated a new church in Wenling, dedicated to St. Francis Xavier. Designed by a priest, this cruciform church was built with a neo-baroque facade, encompassing 1,500 square feet. Its 8 million yuan price tag is a testament to the devotions of the faithful in China.

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BaptismEasterWorld
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