Tens of thousands, including ex-atheist, to join church at Easter


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WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Tens of thousands of new Catholics, including an 89-year-old former atheist, will join the church at the Easter Vigil, April 3. Those seeking baptism, called catechumens, and those already baptized who will be brought into full communion with the Catholic Church, called candidates, have reached the church through a variety of paths.

Some have been led by family and friends, while others were motivated by powerful or painful personal experiences.

Jean Henry of Easton, Md., was raised a Methodist and "drifted" into the Episcopal Church, but rejected Christianity more than four decades ago after a major spat in the women's guild.

"I tried to heal it but I could not," Henry told The Dialog, newspaper of the Diocese of Wilmington, Del., which includes Maryland's Eastern Shore.

"I thought I had a good, strong faith, but it was too shallow."

Henry, who turns 90 April 16, said she "started out agnostic and went on to become an atheist because I never do things by halves. If I was going to doubt, I was going to doubt all the way."

But she found that "this life is hell if you're an atheist," she said.

"I had gotten to the point where life didn't seem worth living. I'm not suicidal, so I'm not saying that, but why be here if you're an atheist?"