Decade-high number of those seeking reception into the Church in Southwark

450 people are going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the Archdiocese of Southwark this year.

The number of people being welcomed into the Catholic Church in South London and Kent by the Archdiocese of Southwark is at its highest number for over a decade.

This year there are 450 people completing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) – the process to become a Catholic as an adult. An increase of 164% compared to last year (275) and the highest number since 2015.

Under Archbishop John Wilson’s leadership, the Archdiocese has had a firm focus on evangelisation and the efforts are paying off.

St George’s Cathedral in Southwark was full on Saturday 17 February, with both catechumens (those not yet baptised) and candidates (those from other Christian traditions) to mark the start of their final preparations as they seek fully reception into the Church at Easter.

Speaking at the Service, Archbishop John said:

It is a wonderful thing to be on the journey towards full reception into the Catholic Church.

We are so privileged to have the gift of faith. There are people who have it, but let it go. There are people who want it but cannot find it. But you my dear brothers and sisters, because of the openness of your heart, you have heard the Lord call your name and invite you to know His love. That for me is such a tremendous joy.

The reasons people are entering the Church are varied but it’s clear the Catholic Church is speaking to people in different ways and in large numbers.

Georgette, a candidate from St Theresa’s of Our Child Jesus in Morden shared her testimony and said:

I feel connected to our Lord Jesus and all the Angels and Saints. We have learnt how to bring our children up in the faith and we feel part of a Church family.

Southwark’s Agency for Evangelisation and Catechesis (AEC) is working tirelessly to support parishes in the spreading of the Gospel. The Agency runs a number of programmes to equip parishes to lead people to Christ and are encouraged by what is happening, as near record numbers of people are converting to Catholicism in the Archdiocese.

Dr Mark Nash, the director of AEC said:

Leading people to Jesus Christ is at the heart of all we do at the Agency and it’s wonderful to see so many people on their journey to His Church.

Too often we are pessimistic about the future of the Church, many people say that the Church is dead or dying, but the growing numbers of people seeking to join the Church shows that with commitment, drive and trust in the Holy Spirit, with expectancy and hope, and with collaboration between priests and people, our mission to lead people to the Lord Jesus’s through His Church will be fruitful.

The increasing Rite of Election numbers are part of a broader trend of hopeful growth for the Archdiocese. Mass count statistics have increased this year by over 10% too.

The AEC supports RCIA Coordinators in parishes in a number of ways, including providing helpful resources as well as training on how to accompany people on their journey to Christ. As well as supporting parishes primarily through the Some Definite Service network of volunteers, which links them with other likeminded parishes.

Photos from the day can be found online.