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At 'mother of all vigils,' U.S. church welcomes thousands of new Catholics


  • The newly baptized receive their baptismal candles during the Easter Vigil April 16 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle Va. Thousands of new Catholics joined the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil at churches around the U.S. (CNS photo/Octavio Duran)
  • A girl is enamored of her Easter candle during the Easter Vigil April 15 in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Wichita, Kan. (CNS photo/Christopher Riggs, The Catholic Advance)
  • Worshippers hold candles at the beginning of the Easter Vigil at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach, N.Y., April 15. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
  • Msgr. Christopher Heller anoints Shanna Doyle with sacred chrism oil as she is confirmed during the Easter Vigil at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach, N.Y., April 15. Doyle also received her first Communion at the Mass. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
  • Churchgoers hold candles at the beginning of the Easter Vigil April 15 at the Cathedral of the Epiphany in Sioux City, Iowa. (CNS photo/Jerry L. Mennenga, Catholic Globe)

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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- During what the Roman Missal describes as the "mother of all vigils," the U.S. Catholic Church welcomed thousands of new Catholics at the Easter Vigil April 15 in churches big and small across the country.

About 60 of the nearly 200 dioceses in the United States reported numbers of catechumens and candidates entering the church in 2017 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington.

Catechumens receive the sacraments of initiation -- baptism, confirmation and first Communion -- during the Easter Vigil, having prepared for this moment through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Candidates, who are already baptized, also go through the preparation program to receive confirmation and first Communion to enter full communion with the church.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest diocese in the United States, welcomed 1,756 catechumens and 938 candidates, while the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston reported 1,667 catechumens and 708 candidates. The Archdiocese of Seattle had 679 catechumens and 409 candidates, the Archdiocese of Miami had 524 catechumens and 214 candidates, and the Archdiocese of Washington reported 483 catechumens and 698 candidates.

Not far behind was the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, which reported 387 catechumens and 528 candidates.

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