Joining the Catholic Faith today follows the process of the early church. In ancient times, small communities were formed to facilitate learning Christ’s message. In 1966 a decree from the Second Vatican Council called for the adult rite of initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation – to be revised and restored. In 1972, the church issued the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), which stresses the connection between each of the three sacraments of Christian Initiation. In 1988, the American Bishops mandated the implementation of the RCIA in all parishes in the United States. The same process is also used for children who are age 7 and older.
Many adults who wish to join the Catholic church have never been baptized. These individuals are offered the opportunity to ask questions about the church and to hear about the message of Jesus and how it is lived out in the Catholic church. A person may continue in these question and answer sessions as long as he/she wishes to do so. No commitments are made or expected during this time of inquiry.
If the person decides to pursue the process of becoming Catholic, he/she enters into the catechumenate and learns more about the teachings of the church, public and private prayers, the sacraments and participates in the peace and justice work of the church. At this time they are paired with an active member of the parish, known as a sponsor, who serves as a spiritual companion and offer support and encouragement.
There are various rites of the person’s journey to full membership into the Church which culminates with the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, usually at the Easter Vigil. From the time an unbaptized person becomes a catechumen, until that person celebrates the sacraments of initiation usually takes at least one year.
Those baptized adults who have never been formed in the Christian life also participate in the catechumenate process, as they prepare for acceptance into the Catholic church. They are known as candidates.
Baptized adults who are active members of another christian denomination and find themselves drawn to the Catholic church do not have to undergo the full process of Christian initiation. Such a person does need an understanding of Catholic beliefs, the experience of participating in the liturgical life over a period of time and an acquaintance with the Catholic community in order to be able to make a commitment to the Catholic church. When the time if right, such a person may be received into the Catholic church by making a profession of faith and celebrating the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
At Cathedral, a team of dedicated men, women, and clergy lead the Faith Formation process. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, please call the Parish Office at 522-3342.