BECOMING CATHOLIC - RCIA
The Catholic Church welcomes non-Catholics who may be interested in learning
about the Catholic faith or who may be interested in joining the Catholic
Church. We provide a faith formation process to assist and support persons as
they become Catholic Christian. RCIA is an acronym for this process: Rite of
Christian Initiation of Adults.
Children over age seven and adults, who are not baptized, or who were
baptized in another Christian tradition. (An age-appropriate faith formation
process is provided for children over age seven.)
Baptized Roman Catholic adults who have not yet celebrated both
Confirmation and Eucharist.
Children over age seven who are members of the Catholic Church prepare for
First Communion and Confirmation through their parish�s youth faith formation
process rather than through the RCIA process.
Children under age seven also do not participate in the RCIA. An un-baptized
child under age seven may be baptized at the request of a Catholic parent who
agrees to raise the child as a Catholic Christian. Similarly, a child under age
seven who was baptized in another Christian tradition may be received into the
Catholic Church at the request of a Catholic parent. When a parent of a child
under age seven becomes Catholic through the RCIA process, her/his child can
sometimes become Catholic at the same liturgy during which the parent becomes
Catholic adults who have already celebrated First Communion but are not yet
confirmed may prepare for Confirmation through a faith formation process
designed especially for their needs.
The RCIA is experienced in four stages. Various liturgical rituals mark
turning points between and within the stages. The four stages of the RCIA
- Precatechumenate or Inquiry: This first stage of the RCIA provides inquirers
with introductory information about and experience of the Catholic Church.
Inquirers usually gather with a catechist for faith sharing and to have their
questions about the Catholic faith addressed. Participating in the
Precatechumenate does not require any commitment on the part of the inquirer in
regard to becoming Catholic.
- Catechumenate: This second stage of the RCIA is for those who are no longer
inquirers and have now made a commitment toward becoming a Catholic Christian.
Their formation usually includes: weekly catechetical sessions about the
teachings of the Church; participation in weekly worship; and involvement in the
Church�s mission and community life.
- Purification and Enlightenment: This third stage of the RCIA usually
coincides with the Lenten season. It is the final preparation for celebrating
the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. It is distinguished by
increased periods of prayer and reflection. Under certain circumstances,
individuals may celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation at times other than
- Mystagogy: In this final stage, new Catholic Christians are invited to
reflect on their experience of becoming Catholic and its ramifications for their
future. The formal aspects of Mystagogy usually extend from Easter to
Pentecost. However, since Mystagogy refers to our ever-deepening relationship
with Jesus in the Church, this stage is understood to be a life-long experience
for all Catholic Christians.
- Catechumen: a person who has never been baptized. Catechumens celebrate all
three Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.
- Candidate for Full Communion: a person who is already validly baptized in
another Christian tradition. They are not re-baptized; they become Catholic by
a Profession of Faith and the celebration of Confirmation and First Communion.
Those who were confirmed in the Eastern or Orthodox Churches are not
re-confirmed; they celebrate First Communion when becoming a Catholic Christian.
- Candidate: a baptized Catholic who has not yet celebrated both Confirmation
and First Communion. They complete their initiation by the celebration of these
- Sponsor: an adult companion in faith for someone who is becoming Catholic.
Sponsors must be practicing, fully-initiated Catholics. As far as is possible,
they attend the weekly Catechumenate sessions. They also support, encourage,
and pray for the person they sponsor. Finally, they are present at the Rites
and Sacraments of Initiation.
- Catechist: a trained teacher of the faith. The catechist is responsible for
teaching Catholic doctrine and helping RCIA participants understand Catholic
faith and practices.
- Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
Catechumens, (i.e., those who are un-baptized), celebrate these three Sacraments
together when they become Catholic. Persons who have already been validly
baptized are not re-baptized. These persons complete their initiation as
Catholics by celebrating Confirmation and Eucharist. Those who were confirmed
in the Eastern or Orthodox Churches are not re-confirmed but celebrate Eucharist
to complete their initiation when becoming Catholic.
For more information on the above, or to express your interested in RCIA,
please call the parish office, (910) 762-5491.