Joining the Catholic Church - The RCIA
How do I become a Catholic?
Any person who wants to be a Catholic Christian is welcome to join the Church by receiving the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion. Someone born into a Catholic family usually receives these Sacraments during their childhood, beginning with Baptism at birth and ending with Confirmation around the age of fourteen.
For people who decide to join the Catholic Church as adults, preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion is offered through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
How does the RCIA work?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process of growth that informs a person about the Catholic faith and prepares them to love God and love their neighbor as a disciple of Christ, a Christian.
In practice, the RCIA is a journey where Catholics lead non-Catholics in discussions about the Catholic faith and how it is fully lived. Typically, people interested in joining the Church meet once a week with ministry leaders to discuss a faith topic (such as baptism, communion, or belief in the Holy Trinity), the Sunday scripture readings and how it all applies to our daily lives. It’s not a class or lecture. It’s a discussion about living a Christian life!
Like any Catholic Rite, there’s a text that fully outlines the RCIA. But don’t panic-most Catholics have never seen this text, much less read it, and they are not expected to. The RCIA text is the guide for Catholics who lead the RCIA ministry.
But what do I actually have to do to become a Catholic?
To become a Catholic, a person must choose to follow Christ by practicing the Catholic faith. That means a person must understand Catholic teachings and beliefs and choose to accept them.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults provides a chance for any and every adult to learn about the Catholic faith so they can make an informed decision about joining the Catholic Church. So, if anyone wishes to join the Catholic Church, the normal process is participation in the RCIA.
How do I begin the RCIA Journey?
If you are interested in exploring the Catholic faith or beginning the RCIA journey, you may contact the parish office to schedule an appointment with Deacon Scott. You may also contact him directly at email@example.com or text or call him at 727-386-8570. You are also invited to drop in to any RCIA meeting. Walk-ins are always welcome!
Meetings are usually at 7 pm on Thursdays in the back building, Conference Room D. Please check the bulletin, contact Deacon Scott or call the church office at 727-789-1025 to confirm a meeting is going to be held on the day you wish to drop in.
How long does the RCIA journey last?
There is no set time period for the RCIA journey. It varies depending on the readiness of the individual. A person who has attended Mass for years with their Catholic spouse or family, but never received the sacraments of Baptism or First Communion, may need only a few months of formation before they are ready to join the Church. A 45-year old person who was raised Catholic and actively practices their faith, but did not receive Confirmation as a teenager, may be ready to receive that Sacrament as soon as schedules allow. In short, the time of preparation depends on the faith maturity of the individual.
That being said, an adult who has never been baptized and has little to no knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus is recommended to spend at least a year on the RCIA journey.
Who decides when I can receive the Sacraments of Initiation and join the Catholic Church?
Any bishop or pastor can decide if a person is ready to join the Catholic Church. Typically, the decision is made after consulting with your local parish RCIA director, who relies on input from you and the RCIA ministry team.
New Catholics are usually baptized during the Easter Vigil Mass (celebrated on the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday). A person who has already been baptized, but who has not received First Communion or Confirmation may receive these sacraments at the discretion of their pastor, with approval by the bishop.
What does it cost to join the Catholic Church through the RCIA?
It only costs your time, participation and desire.
Where can I get more information about becoming a Catholic?
You are welcome to contact Deacon Scott Huang at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about joining the Catholic Church.
You may also read more about joining the Church at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/who-we-teach/rite-of-christian-initiation-of-adults/index.cfm