Becoming Catholic - RCIA

 

RCIA is a process that helps people who did not grow up in the Catholic Church learn about our beliefs and practices. It generally takes less than a year.

RCIA is not a program that can teach everything there is to know about being a good Christian disciple and steward. We encourage you to view learning about your faith as a lifelong process. No matter what your personal story is, it begins before you start RCIA, and it continues until you pass from this world.

To help you continue to develop your own personal relationship with Jesus, we invite you to attend any of our Adult Faith Enrichment opportunities. You are welcome before you begin RCIA, while you are in RCIA, and after you complete RCIA.

Perhaps you have some questions about RCIA. We offer some of the answers at RCIA Frequently Asked Questions. You can find out how the process works with our flowchart.

The following, written by Fr. Jeff, appeared in the parish bulletin on August 1, 2010.

A few words from Fr. Jeff

I believe that we are all searching for “something” in life.  We search because we seek fulfillment.  Many people try to find fulfillment in material things.  Material things may bring us pleasure in the short-term but they cannot bring us true fulfillment for we are not created to be of this world.  We are created in the image of God.  We are to seek the things of above.  Our finding fulfillment depends on us finding God as the center of our lives.

Each person has their own relationship with God, their own story to tell.  There are people who have been life-long practicing Catholics.  There are people like me who were raised Catholic but were then away from the Church for a number of years before returning.  There are people who have already become Catholic. There are people who belonged to other churches and now find themselves exploring the Catholic faith.  There are people who were never baptized or raised with any faith.

Perhaps you are not Catholic, or you know someone who isn’t, but would like to become Catholic.  Whether baptized in another denomination or never baptized we have a something to offer.  We call it RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. 

The obvious question is what is RCIA.  It involves small group or individual meetings to learn about what it means to be Catholic.  But it is not a classroom exercise with a test at the end.  It might seem at times like learning in a classroom but it isn’t about passing a test.  It is about developing and/or deepening a personal relationship with the Lord.

What does it require?  Each person is different.  For a person who never attended any church, the process often takes several months.  For someone raised in another denomination it might only take a few weeks.

A person might wonder if they are ready to enter.  You don’t have to be sure to begin the process.  In fact, part of the purpose is to help each person discover what God is calling you to do.  The gatherings help you discover what it means to be Catholic so that you can decide for yourself.

The process begins before you ever talk to anyone about RCIA.  It begins when your searching leads you to explore what the Catholic Church has to offer.  Perhaps the Holy Spirit inspires you to come to church or perhaps a family member or friend invites you.  Whatever draws you in; you find something you want to learn more about.  Then, it is time to reach out to our parish staff or clergy to talk about your desire. 

If you wish to formally begin the process you become an inquirer.  The basics of what it means to be Catholic are shared.  If and when you feel ready, the next step is the Rite of Acceptance or Welcoming where you formally express your interest in the Catholic faith.  From there you continue to learn about what it means to be Catholic until the Rites of Sending and Election.  These rites symbolize your deepening knowledge of our faith and your personal relationship with Jesus.  Then, you are baptized, or for those already baptized in another denomination are received into the Catholic Church. 

It is not a difficult process.  There are no written tests.  How does one know if they are ready to begin?  Readiness is not determined by what one knows but rather by what one feels in the heart.  One may never seem quite sure but in faith we encourage you to step forward.  It cannot hurt to begin the process to see what God might be calling you to. 

So, if you are thinking about becoming Catholic, we encourage you to make the next step.  All you have to begin is to give us a call and ask us about RCIA.

For Further Reading

"The Sacrament of Baptism" - this article speaks of the meaning of baptism, when it has been celebrated, and the symbols we use in baptism.