More converting to Catholic Faith in DC

WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- More people are turning to Catholicism than ever before in DC. At a time when Catholic churches are seeing lower membership and fewer people converting to Catholicism, DC parishes are seeing a rise.

Parishioners packed into St. Matthew's Cathedral in Northwest, D.C.

Despite the national trend, more people in the D.C. region are converting to the Catholic faith.

According to the Washington Archdiocese more than 1300 people celebrated Easter as a new Catholic.

Many who are now turning to the Catholic faith are young people.

Susan Gibbs, a Catholic advisor said, "Part of it is due obviously to the efforts of the Archdiocese to really encourage parishes to take on and encourage people to explore faith. Another reason is this area is a destination for young adults. We are seeing it in the housing markets and we are seeing it in the religion market."

DC is home to the two largest Catholic schools: Catholic and Georgetown universities.

Many who are turning to the Catholic faith are between the ages of 19- and 35-years-old.

"Some of it's relationships, age-old getting married my wife, boyfriend husband is Catholic but I also think Washington is a place people are exploring who they are and it's a service oriented, community oriented population people come here because they want to give and that fits well with exploring faith," Gibbs said.

Matt Balleza, a Catholic said, "I think there's a movement and vibrant feeling in DC where there are a lot of young people who want to interact with the mystery of their faith and enter back to that sacred space, it's exciting to see."

The only other region seeing a growth in new Catholics is in the South and Southwest according to a study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). It also finds a larger number of conversions had never been baptized before.

Gibbs said, "We're beginning to say we need relationships. That's missing in my life and where can I find it? It's either going to be through their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or their relationship with God."

The CARA study also finds when couples from different faiths marry they tend to join the Catholic church than any other faith.


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