Becoming Catholic (RCIA)
Whether you opened this page because you are interested in looking into becoming Catholic or you are just interested in knowing more about Catholics, the Church or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), please know that we welcome you here at the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.
What is the RCIA?
The RCIA is the communal process of spiritual and educational formation through which adults explore the Catholic Faith and become fully initiated members of the Roman Catholic Church.
What is the "goal" of RCIA?
The RCIA process is all about conversion, communion and discipleship. It is about growth and change taking place in our hearts and minds so that we can more fully live in relationship with God and each other. It is about living our faith, and exploring what belief in God means for our lives. The RCIA is not a class or a bunch of hoops that one must jump through to join the Catholic Church. Rather RCIA assists you in becoming a living, breathing, active disciple of Christ, and a participant in the life of God.
Who participates in RCIA?
There are three general groups of people who come into the Church through the RCIA.
Adults who have not been baptized.
The RCIA is primarily intended for un-baptized adults, who, upon hearing the Gospel message and receiving formation in the Christian way of life, choose to become followers of Christ by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
The RCIA process also serves adults baptized in another Christian denomination or community who are now interested in exploring the Catholic Christian Faith and perhaps living out their Christian life in the Catholic Church. We do not baptize again anyone whose baptism was performed with water and the Trinitarian formula (invoking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). These men and women are welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Adults Baptized Catholic but have not received First Communion.
The RCIA is also for adults who were baptized in the Catholic faith, but did not grow up practicing this faith or receiving regular formation or additional sacraments. While already a part of the full communion of the Catholic Church due to their Catholic baptism, these men and women seek to complete their sacraments of initiation with the celebration of Confirmation and Eucharist.
What can I expect?
RCIA is comprised of a series of stages of formation, each with a slightly different focus. Each is marked by a ritual celebration transitioning a person from one stage to the next.
One can enter into this stage at any time during the year. This period is marked by unpacking the Sunday Scriptures, and answering the questions that the “inquirer” has about faith, God and Church and its teachings. This is a time of initial discernment to see if becoming Catholic is the right step for you. We gather together weekly.
Stage one: Catechumenate
Three times a year, we celebrate our first ritual which publicly celebrates one’s desire to officially enter formation for initiation into the Catholic Church. This Rite of Welcome moves us into our first stage of formation. From this point on, we attend Sunday Mass together, each participant is given a sponsor/companion and our discussion meetings will be either before or after Sunday mass. We continue to reflect deeply on the Sunday scripture, and in a small group we examine related Catholic beliefs, teachings, customs,traditions and prayer.
Stage two: Purification and Enlightenment
At the beginning of Lent, (the 40 days prior to Easter), we celebrate another ritual to recognize our progress of being formed in the faith. It signals our readiness to begin final preparations for receiving the sacraments. This period of formation, which coincides with the season of Lent, is more reflective and prayerful.
Stage three: Reception of Sacraments and Mystagogia
For those looking for Baptism we celebrate the Sacraments and full initiation into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Service on Holy Saturday (the evening before Easter Sunday). Those seeking full communion with the Catholic Church can participate in this same service or be received in November as well depending on when they are ready.
After reception of the Sacraments we will continue with the new Catholics in a period called Mystagogia. The terms means to unpact the mystery. During this period participants continue to discern God's movement in their lives and their own engagement in the community.
I'm divorced. Can I still be Catholic?
Yes you can become Catholic. Being divorced is in and of itself not the “serious” issue. The issue is only if you have remarried or are intending to remarry. Then It would be necessary to go through the annulment process. Jesus says in Marks’s Gospel “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” Therefore this would also be true if your spouse or your fiancé was at one point divorced. Then we would have to talk to them about getting an annulment prior to your becoming Catholic. These things get a little technical. Just know that we are there to help you through this. It is best if you talk with us about this subject if you think it might apply to you.
Comments by past participants...
“Thank you for not just giving me the book with all the answers. The communal aspect of the RCIA combined with prayer and adult learning style helped me to not only become Catholic but it enriched the relationship I now have with God.”
Jody Thomson, Received into Full communion with the Church in 2009.
"I thought RCIA was going to be like going to school, but it is more about discovery. I felt like I was going on a journey with fellow explorers. I was and am part of a community. Surrounding me was the RCIA team and the parish who were all guiding me with love".
Sandra Herrera, Baptized in 2010.
“The RCIA program was a wonderful experience. I hated waking up in the early morning, but I enjoyed the discussions and camaraderie with my fellow catechumens. The RCIA Team was amazing. They really helped me along every step of the way, and made sure I had everything I needed for my spiritual journey.”
Cu Nguyen, Baptized in 2012.
What kind of time commitment do I have to make?
After the inquiry period and depending on when one starts, it is a meeting once a week for approximately 6 months. After Inquiry this includes attendance at Sunday Mass. The RCIA process is definitely a commitment of time and energy but it is also a time of enrichment.
I have mixed feelings...
This is a big step. It can get complicated with family expectations and life commitments. Just know we are all on this journey of faith; you do not have to walk it alone. Our RCIA team and our parish is excited to walk along side of you as you discern how God might be inviting you into a deeper relationship.
If you are unsure this is the right step for you, that’s okay. Take one step at a time. We welcome folks who are still exploring, still seeking. You are not making a life long commitment at this time. RCIA at its best helps people find their way on their spiritual journey. If in the process you discern this isn’t the right fit for you, or not the right time, that is ok, too!
What is my next step?
Contact us at the parish office. We would love to hear from you.
I am interested in helping with the RCIA. What can I do?
There are two major ministries that are needed to serve those interested in becoming Catholic.
Sponsor: Sponsors are members of the parish who are willing to walk with the catechumens and candidates throughout the process. Your duties are to be in contact once a week, preferably in person but at least by phone. You help them to become involved in parish activities, get to know others in the parish and to find answers to their questions. Through this you will likely develop a life long friendship. Sponsors must come to know their catechumen or candidate so that they can speak on their behalf at various ceremonies through out the formation period. This ministry does not require prior experience or special training, just a welcoming spirit.
Catechist /Team Member: Team members facilitate adult learning through small group gatherings. Team members present topics and facilitate discussion. Presentations might be on some form of prayer or some topic about God, his people or the Church. Resources are available to help one to prepare. A presenter is never alone during their presentation. Other team members and at least one master catechist will be present to assist the presenter. Catechists are required to move toward getting diocesan certification. Team members are also members of the parish who have a sincere interest in the participants welcoming them and encouraging them along their journey.