Q. How can I become Catholic ?
A. The process for being received into the Catholic Church is non pressured but requires true commitment. This process is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) or Right of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC). It is several steps long and the length of time it might take depends upon the catechesis of the idividual and any possible impediments to reception. The most common impediment is divorce and remarriage. The steps are as follows:
- Make an appointment with the RCIA director. Tell them you are interested in becoming Catholic.
- Begin attending the Inquiry sessions or Pre-catechumenate. These are meetings that evangelize the inquirers and a place for them to get all of their questions answered. There is no commitment involved. A person can stay in inquiry as long as they wish to before moving on to the next step. But they usually need to stay in until the next Rite of Welcome.
- Rite of Welcome-Is a Rite that takes place with at mass with the person’s sponsor or a substitute if they don’t have a sponsor yet. It is very beautiful. After the Rite the inquirers leave the Church to reflect on the readings or begin a more formal catechesis (teaching of the faith) . They will attend these meetings each Sunday by coming to the designate mass and leaving for further study after the Liturgy of the Word.
- Catechumenate-Consists of those being instructed in the Catholic Faith and prepared for Baptism, First Communion, and/or Confirmation at the Easter Vigil. How this is structured is up to each parish. All instruction may take place on Sudays or some on Sundays and some on another day of the week.
- As the Easter Vigil nears those in the Catechumenate will be helped to discern their readiness to be received into the Church at Easter.
- Rite of Sending-A Rite that takes place at mass for those proceeding to initiation into the Catholic Church. These are sent to a celebration with the diocesan bishop and all others in the diocese proceeding to the Easter Sacraments. (optional)
- Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names-The bishop is the celebrant which officially accepts into the Catholic Church. Names are enrolled in the Church in preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation which will be given at the Easter Vigil.
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment-A time of more intense preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in the catechetical instruction.
- Sacraments of Intitiation- this usually takes place at the Easter Vigil.
- Mystagogy-Ongoing instruction until the Feast of Pentecost.
This process is recommended to take two years for an individual without any Christian instruction. For those instructed and perhaps baptized in other Christian Ecclesial Communities it will take considerably less time. One is never pressured to move on to the next step if they feel unready. Through the process one also becomes acquainted with Catholics who value their faith and will help you on the journey. It is easy to become impatient…”I want the body of Christ , NOW!” But part of being a Christian is the eradication of pride and the seeking of humility. Graciously submitting to the wisdom of the Church in how she receives new children is a beautiful first step towards growing in humility.