The Catholic Defender New Converts Drawn to the Faith Through the Real Presence
Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
Easter’s Eucharistic invitation touches hearts. For college student Jay Mingo, Communion was key to his entering the Church this Easter.
“The Eucharist really has been the driving factor for me in joining the Catholic Church,” he told the Register.
The sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will join 37 others at St. Thomas Aquinas Church on campus in becoming Catholic.
Mingo, a native Texan, was baptized as a nondenominational Christian. His father’s side of the family was Catholic; his mother’s was Protestant.
“I remember going to Mass with my grandparents, but not really understanding it,” he recalled to the Register. “I did have a pull towards the Catholic Church, though, from a young age.”
During the 2020 pandemic lockdown, he spent time doing some intensive reading about the Catholic Church. He read materials from Ascension Press and Father Mike Schmitz and Catholic Answers; he explored such questions as praying to the saints and devotion to Mary and confession.
But his key topic was the Eucharist: “I knew the Eucharist was something important, but not something I ever really understood. Was it really the Body and Blood of Christ?”
He remembered praying at a Holy Hour in a small chapel and feeling a sense of “excitement and nervousness,” as he had never before been so close to the Host.
He said he was “moved to tears” and thought, “I really get to see Christ, offering to meet us where we are at, and experience his fullness. It is a beautiful thing and one that most distinguishes Catholicism from the Protestant churches I attended.” In the days before Easter, he anticipated receiving his first Holy Communion and confirmation. “I’m excited and counting down the days.”
A 28-year-old police officer who grew up without religion who is engaged to a Catholic fiancée is becoming Catholic this Easter too.
In marriage-preparation classes, Julian Fidel Martinez of Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., found himself “quickly drawn” to Catholicism and began studying and attending Mass before deciding to enter the Church.
“The Lord was playing the ‘long game’ with me and waited to introduce me to my future wife to open my heart and mind up to my faith,” he told the Register.
Ahead of the Easter vigil he was excited about receiving his first sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. “I look forward to growing closer to our Father and … receiving the Eucharist.”
These converts are not alone in their newfound faith.
This Easter, many American dioceses are preparing to welcome large numbers of converts to the Catholic faith.
The Archdiocese of Atlanta, for example, which serves 1.2 million Catholics, reported that 1,831 catechumens and candidates will receive sacraments for the first time during the archdiocese’s Easter liturgies. The Archdiocese of Washington, which serves 655,000 Catholics, reported it will welcome 1,000; and the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which serves 518,000, will welcome 501.
In the Archdiocese of New Orleans, children are among the new converts. Ten students at St. Joan of Arc School in LaPlace, Louisiana, are included in the approximately 300 people entering the Church in the archdiocese.
Guadalupe Moreno is among the Atlanta contingent. She is a parishioner at St. Philip Benizi Church in Jonesboro, Georgia, in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. When she was a girl, she was brought to Mass by her mother, but she was never baptized.
In time, both she and her mother stopped attending church.
As Moreno grew into adulthood, she recalled to the Register, she began “craving God” and decided to return to church and receive baptism and the other sacraments this Easter.
Not only is she returning to the Church, she is bringing her family members back with her, including her mother.
As her baptism approached, she said, “I’m excited. For so many years I’ve wanted to be baptized, and now it is going to happen.”
Each convert has a distinctive story about what drew him or her to the Church. Several spoke to the Register ahead of Holy Week.