England and Wales might have experienced a large drop in numbers entering the Church at Easter, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in New Zealand’s largest diocese.
According to The Tablet of London, 2793 people attended the Rite of Election this year in England and Wales. That was down from 3286 last year, and nearly 1200 lower than the peak
fi gure of 3931 in 2011.
The Rite of Election takes place in cathedrals on the Sunday after Ash Wednesday and is a milestone for those being baptised or otherwise received into the Church at Easter.
In Auckland diocese, 211 candidates and catechumens were at the Rite of Election this year, up from 138 in 2010. The Auckland figure was made up of 115 catechumens (people not already
baptised) and 96 candidates (people already baptised in another church, or who have been baptised in the Catholic Church but have not completed their initiation).
Adriana Janus from Auckland’s Pastoral and Evangelisation Office said not all parishes send people to the Rite of Election. Whangarei has its own ceremony, she said, adding that infant Baptisms are not included in the figure.
She also said some candidates are received into the Church throughout the year.
A spokeswoman for the England and Wales bishops said their Rite of Election figures did not accurately measure the total number being baptised or received into the Church over 12 months. She also noted that it is normal to have variations from year to year.
A series of national evangelisation initiatives have been launched in England and Wales, including “Come Home for Christmas”.
There is “Crossing the Threshold”, which equips parishes to reach out to non-churchgoing, lapsed Catholics.
And there is “Proclaim 15”, a gathering in Birmingham in July that has a theme of resourcing and building missionary parishes.
The England and Wales bishops have also launched a major research project exploring how to reach out to non-churchgoing parents through their Catholic primary schools.
Mrs Janus said Auckland diocese has a similar missionary impulse in reaching out to parents through schools, focusing on nonactive Catholics and building missionary parishes.