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New Sydney Catholics flock to Cathedral with RCIA numbers tripling in three years

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Parish representatives step forward with their books of the Elect, carrying the names of those who will become Catholics at Easter. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Parish representatives step forward with their books of the Elect, carrying the names of those who will become Catholics at Easter. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

In his late teens, growing up in Malaysia, 25-year-old Ezekiel Ling kept a secret from his strict Lutheran Protestant parents.

It wasn’t until the young medical student migrated to Australia that he thought he could “come out.”

“I always knew, I wanted to be a Catholic,” he recalls.

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“It wasn’t really something I could speak about with my parents, so it was just something that was mostly hidden.

“It wasn’t until late last year, since I’ve come to Australia to do my master’s when I thought I want to give this a try and that that’s why I reached out.

Ezekiel reached out to the University of Technology Sydney’s Catholic society, where he found a group of like-minded Christians.

“Spending time with other Catholics and learning from their experience and their wealth of knowledge helped inform my understanding of what it means to be a Catholic and what it means to be Christian,” he said.

The RCIA course—the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults—was the natural next step.
Offered by the Archdiocese of Sydney, the RCIA prepares new Catholics to be received sacramentally into the church.

“I think it’s an excellent way to learn the fundamentals and how to live as a Catholic,” Ezekiel said.

On Sunday 18 February, he will be joined by nearly 300 new Catholics as they’re presented to Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP at St Mary’s Cathedral for the Rite of Election Liturgy.

“The Rite of Election is a major annual liturgical celebration in the life of the Church. It is one of three major rites of the RCIA journey,” says RCIA Co-ordinator from the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation, Simon Yeak.

As a sign of Archbishop Fisher’s Go Make Disciples mission thriving throughout Sydney, Simon says numbers of new Catholics entering the faith have nearly tripled in the last 3 years.

“In 2021 we had 107. In 2023, it was 179. This Sunday we welcome 266 desiring to receive Christ at the altar at Easter,” said Simon.

“I remember Archbishop Fisher’s homily at the first Rite of Election saying, ‘A thriving parish life and a thriving RCIA program are one and the same.’

“Since our Go Make Disciples mission at the Sydney Centre for Evangelisation is to support parish ministries to help them evangelise and witness the faith to their local communities, we have 45 parishes participating at the RCIA to show for it.

“Having the archbishop, our spiritual father, present and presiding over the liturgy will be incredibly special and uplifting for him when he sees not a single empty pew.”
Ezekiel is even more excited to cross the threshold and enter the Catholic faith.

“I cannot wait. I’m feeling blessed and also kind of anxious,” he said.

“It’s such a big step but my journey with Christ has only just begun.”

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