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RCIA - Become Catholic
Am I called to be Catholic?
There are many reasons why people become Catholic. Perhaps you attended a funeral or social function and were moved by something you heard or experienced to explore further the Catholic faith. Maybe you are already married to a Catholic and are now ready to learn more about the Catholic faith. Perhaps you are a single person with questions about God or searching for a new place to worship. Maybe you know a friend or family member who is Catholic and you admire who they are. Questions about the Catholic faith are always welcome.
How do I know if being Catholic is right for me?
If you are curious about the Catholic Church, we offer a special process for you to explore further the Catholic faith. This process is the RCIA. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Joining the process does not require that you become Catholic. The RCIA helps you to discover what the Catholic Church has to offer. It is a way for you to find out if being Catholic is right for you. If you complete the process, you will be a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA):
The Catholic Church provides guidance for people seeking to further their relationship with God, community and others. RCIA is the process the Catholic Church uses to welcome newcomers and provide a time of formation for those interested in church membership. Children from the age of seven and older are welcome to participate in an age appropriate version of the RCIA tailored to their needs.
- It is also helpful for those who are baptized Catholic, but have not yet completed their Sacraments of Initiation: Eucharist and Confirmation.
- Catholics who have been baptized, received First Communion and are interested in receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation will participate in Adult Confirmation sessions (see Adult Confirmation page).
- Those who have never been baptized and those who have been baptized in another Christian church and wish to find out more about the Catholic Church are encouraged to inquire further.
RCIA is a journey in faith
The process for becoming Catholic is primarily a journey in faith. From the initial stirrings of faith and curiosity within one's heart to a life of faith, love, and justice, lived in communion with Catholics throughout the world, there are stages that a person will journey through. Levels of understanding, involvement, discernment and commitment along with celebration of rites prior to each new stage provide a gradual process to full membership in the Catholic Church.
Stages in the RCIA Process:
This is a time of getting acquainted with the Catholic Church, looking at one's own life story and making connections with the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Ongoing reflection, discussion and discernment help to clarify how God is calling you as an individual within a community of faith. This stage lasts as long as you need, a few months to several years. Indications of readiness to enter the next stage include faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and a desire to become a member of the Catholic Church.
Making a Decision (Catechumenate)
Gathering with the Catholic community for the first part of Sunday Mass to hear the Scriptures, responding in prayer and song and reflecting on the homily to see how God's Word for us can be applied in our own lives is the basis for this phase. After Mass, further study of the Catholic Church through breaking open the Sunday scriptures in our small group and reflecting on their meaning in personal life and within the community, continues to deepen our initial faith life. This stage also lasts as long as the person needs it to last, anywhere from several months to several years. Godparents or sponsors present the person to the community during the Rite of Acceptance or Welcome and continue to journey with the person throughout the process.
Deepening the Commitment (Period of Purification or Illumination)
Corresponding to the six-weeks of preparation for Easter, this Lenten period is a prayerful time for the Elect as they prepare for the moment of full membership through the profession of faith and the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist. The Rite of Election celebrated at either the Cathedral church of the diocese or a church designated by the diocese begins this phase. The diocesan Bishop presides at this celebration that is usually held on the first Sunday in Lent. All RCIA candidates/catechumen from around the diocese gather together with their sponsors, team, family and friends to be formally accepted as candidates for the Sacraments of Initiation. The Rite of Sending is celebrated within our own faith community prior to the Rite of Election.
During this phase, common reflection on the Scriptures continues; the readings chosen with the themes of continuing conversion in mind. The Lord's Prayer (the prayer Jesus taught us) and the Creed (the summary of our Catholic faith) are integral to this phase of the process.
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
The Sacraments of Initiation are celebrated at the Easter Vigil, an extended night of prayer, singing and hearing the Word of God.
- By the waters of Baptism, a person passes into the new life of grace and becomes a member of the Body of Christ.
- Anointing with special holy oil called chrism seals the initiation by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Participation at the Table of the Lord in the Eucharist marks full membership in the Church.
Celebrating the Gift (Mystagogia)
Lasts from Easter Sunday until the completion of the Easter season fifty days later on Pentecost Sunday and completes the initiation process. Reflection on the personal and communal meaning of what the person has just gone through and looking to the future as to how they can share in the mission of Christ who came to bring salvation and life to the whole world.
What Is the Difference between a Catechumen and a Candidate?
Interested non-baptized persons become catechumens, and catechumens become full members of the Catholic Church by means of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, which are referred to as the Sacraments of Initiation.
Baptized persons from a Protestant tradition, for example, who are preparing for reception into full communion in the Roman tradition, are called candidates. Already baptized persons become a member of the Catholic Church through the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist. Their journey may vary from the catechumens. Liturgical rites in the process differ between the catechumens and the candidates.
What Have Past Participants Said about the RCIA Process?
"The candidates' sharing and questions helped us to grow and deepen our faith and commitment to our Christian life. As always we who 'do the teaching' receive the education." Team Member.
"RCIA was a faith-filled experience for me. I always returned home enlivened. Seeing the candidates come into full communion at our Easter Vigil was especially elating." Team Member.
"In RCIA we became more aware of God, ourselves, and each other. It was neat to share as a couple." Candidate
"God's presence is truly felt in RCIA, and my faith is strengthened by the commitment and enthusiasm of those returning or entering our Catholic faith." Sponsor
"What I like about RCIA is the chance to share my faith with others while learning more about our Catholic teachings." Sponsor
"Our religion means more to us now. We talk about God together." Candidate
How Do I Begin the RCIA Process?
Our church community stands ready to walk with you through your faith journey to full membership in the Catholic Church.
Interested persons should contact Robin Therese, Pastoral Associate & Director of Adult Faith Formation, 337-2330 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.