Becoming a Catholic

While the Catholic Church is the largest religion in the world, it is sometimes also the most misunderstood.

The beliefs of the Catholic Church and her beautiful teachings are consistent through the ages:

  1. We believe that human beings were created by God in love and that everything God creates is good and created out of love. While we have the capacity for sin, the Church believes in the dignity of the human person above all else.
  2. We also believe that goodness infuses all of God’s wondrous creation. All creation, made by God, reflects that goodness. Catholics see the world and its beauty, renewed by the Incarnation, as sacramental – speaking of God’s goodness and love.
  3. We believe in stewardship. Everything is given to us by God and our Catholic responsibility is to share our time, talent and treasure with those around us.
  4. We believe in the Holy Trinity, that God has revealed himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – a communion of knowledge and love – has created us to share in that life.
  5. We believe in community and a living Church – believers are a part of the living Body of Christ and, as such, we are a reflection of the communal nature of the Trinity.
  6. We believe that God loved his creation so much that he became human in the person of Jesus to walk among us.
  7. We believe in the communion of the saints – models of faith who help us and guide us in our daily lives.
  8. We believe in Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection, and we hope that one day we will rise to new life with him.

Becoming Catholic today means joining an ancient faith, deeply rooted in the teachings and traditions of Christ, that is filled with hope and vibrancy as we continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a process in which participants “undergo…conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments…The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism.”

Likewise, the language used in the RCIA process is that of the early Church formation programs. Catechumens are those people who are seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church through all of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. Candidates are people who have been baptized in a Christian tradition but are seeking initiation into the Catholic Church through Eucharist and Confirmation.

RCIA is a process of study, exploration, faith-sharing, and faith formation with specific liturgical rites for seekers and inquirers. Seekers and inquirers are non-baptized adults who desire to be fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Church and/or baptized adult Christians who desire full communion in the Roman Catholic Church.

Adults or older children who have not been baptized and desire to join the Church are invited into the ancient celebration of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. During this process, which is marked by regular ritual acts, participants are introduced to the liturgy, the teachings, and the life of the Catholic Church.

Adults or older children who were baptized in another Christian denomination prepare in a similar way for the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist during their reception into the Catholic Church.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a process that proceeds over weeks and months. It has several steps:

Pre-Catechumenate

This is the earliest phase in the process; it is also known as the Period of Inquiry. Catechumens and Candidates acknowledge that Christ is calling them into the Church through the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is a time for seeking and reflection.

Rite of Initiation

The first Rite in the RCIA process, the Rite of Initiation accepts new members into the worshipping community.

Catechumenate

The longest part of the process, the Catechumenate is a time of learning and formation in the traditions and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a time for sharing stories, reading scripture, and studying the Church customs, traditions and doctrine. Participants also participate in worship services and various Church rituals.

Rite of Election

Catechumens and Candidates are chosen to be received by the bishop and the community and to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.

Sacraments of Initiation

At the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday), all newly elected members of the community who have been journeying through the RCIA process are welcomed formally into the community of believers through receiving the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.

Mystagogy

This is a time of reflection and celebration after the formal reception into the Catholic Church. Mystagogia means “leading into the mystery” and it is a time to explore the deep mystery of our faith and go forth to help build the reign of God on Earth as new members of the faithful.

People journeying through the RCIA process need sponsors and community support to help them grow in faith. The RCIA team, help guide, support and instruct those discerning whether to become members of our Catholic community. Team members share their faith with inquiring adults who are seeking more information about the Catholic Church, many of whom seek to celebrate one or more of the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.