WASHINGTON (AP) America's Roman Catholic parishes expect to more than 150,000 new adult members to join the church this Easter season, the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Evangelism estimates.
Among dioceses that reported, 37,267 adults transferring from other churches will undergo the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and 26,624 will be baptized as Christian converts. Judging from previous years, another 90,000 adults will also join.
Bishop Edward Slattery, chairman of the bishops' evangelization committee, said that in his Tulsa, Okla., diocese, ''I worried that the cathedral would be next to empty due to the scandal news this year,'' but numbers are up over last year.
The growing lay ranks are served by fewer priests. In the Detroit Archdiocese, for instance, priestly ranks declined by a third the past 20 years.
At the 2,000-family St. Sebastian parish in Dearborn Heights, Mich., in little more than a year the pastor was removed over sex abuse allegations, the associate pastor left and a retired priest who helped out died. The new pastor, who works single-handedly, told the Detroit Free Press, ''I'm pretty much consumed'' by duties.
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