BECOMING CATHOLIC

BECOMING CATHOLIC

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process that welcomes and forms prospective members in the faith of the Catholic Church. Its stages and rites culminate at the Easter Vigil with the celebration of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation in the church of St. Mary University Parish.

Joining the Catholic Church: As many people know, those wishing to become Catholic no longer take “convert classes.”  Instead, the Catholic Church has brought back a 1700-year-old process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (referred to as the RCIA).  It’s not like taking classes; it’s exploring how the Lord is working in someone’s whole life, sharing discussions about the Catholic faith, having a member of the parish act as your sponsor, and celebrating special rituals in church as people go deeper into the process of becoming Catholic.

There are 4 major steps in the RCIA process:

The First Step… is the Period of Inquiry.  People gather at the parish and it’s a time of casual questions and answers.  Coming to these Inquiry sessions does not commit anyone to become Catholic.  People come and inquire about the Catholic faith: about what Catholics do,  what we believe, how we pray.  People tell their own stories about what led them to think about becoming Catholic. Those wanting to continue are formally welcomed by a special ritual in church on the weekend appropriately called the “Rite of Welcome and Acceptance.”  The inquirers are signed with the cross by those who have been chosen as their sponsors.  Sponsors provide support and companionship for the rest of the RCIA process and may be chosen by the individual or provided by the parish.

The Second Step… is the Period of the Catechumenate.  Those inquirers who have become more firm in their desire to join the Catholic Church begin going deeper into the Catholic faith.  Those who are not baptized are called catechumens.  Those already baptized in another Christian church seeking to become Catholic are called Candidates for Full Communion.  If catechumens and candidates feel that God is indeed calling them to join the Catholic Church, they are officially “called” to receive the Easter Sacraments by the Bishop at the cathedral in a liturgy called the “Rite of Election,” which takes place on the First Sunday of Lent.

The Third Step… is the Period of Purification and Enlightenment.  This is an even deeper period of discussion, prayer, and learning.  Having been “called” by the Bishop for Catholic initiation, the catechumens are now called the elect.  Normally the elect are sent forth from Mass each weekend after the homily for discussion about the Scripture readings.  Three special rituals are prayed over them in the last half of Lent, to help them fully prepare for the Easter Sacraments.

The Fourth Step… is Initiation into the Catholic Church.  On Holy Saturday, the parish assembles for the Church greatest liturgy, the Easter Vigil.  The elect are baptized, and together with the candidates, all are confirmed and receive the Eucharist for the very first time.  During the Easter season the Bishop gathers with all the newly-initiated for a special Mass of Thanksgiving at the cathedral.  But the journey of faith lasts a lifetime.

For more information, simply call the parish office at 773-3931, send us a message below, or check out this form for registration…. RCIA Registration