Think you might want to follow Christ as a Roman Catholic?
We’re delighted to welcome you into the Church’s process, called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and abbreviated RCIA, and accompany you along the way. If you’ve never been baptized there are four stages of growth in Christian living: falling in love with Jesus and His Church, learning how to follow him, entering into a final phase of spiritual preparation to meet Jesus in the sacraments, and then spending the next months encountering Jesus in the Mass, listening to his call upon your life, and finding your footing as a Christian.
If you are already baptized, the steps are adapted to your existing faith journey. But don’t worry, we are here to accompany you along the way, together encountering Christ and experiencing the joys of Christian living.
“We are each of us like a small mirror in which God searches for His reflection.”
~ St. John Vianney
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
RCIA is an acronym that stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The acronym is used to designate the process prescribed by the Church, in the ritual text of the same name, through which adults who have never been baptized are prepared for baptism, confirmation and eucharist. That same ritual book provides adapted processes for children over the age of seven who have never been baptized, and for Christians who were baptized in another Christian denomination who which to follow Jesus in the Roman Catholic Church, as well as approaches for some of the many situations people find themselves in.
The process is designed for adults (which the Church says for purposes of preparing for initiation is any person over the age of seven) who has never been baptized. As noted above, it also has processes for adults who were baptized in other Christian denominations who wish to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, adults who were baptized Catholic and need to complete their sacramental initiation and adults in special circumstances. Each parish determines how it handles these circumstances within the parameters established by the ritual text.
The process is intended to be individualized as much as possible, so that one size does not fit all. That said, the Church in the United States says that an unbaptized adult should be accompanied for at least one full year before they are initiated so that they have a chance to encounter Jesus’ entire story: birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension and coming of the Spirit. Others need varying lengths of preparation, and the Church intends the process to be adapted according to the needs of each person.
Simply said, participants agree to begin a lifelong journey with Jesus Christ, lived within a particular parish. That journey has intellectual, spiritual and practical parts to it. Participants are expected to learn with others and individually, to participate in parish activities that build the Kingdom Jesus came to establish, and to engage in and experiment with various spiritual practices. All of these activities are intended to help participants build a lifelong relationship with Christ and to establish relationships with fellow Catholic Christians. Why? So that the participant becomes a disciple intentionally following Jesus, with some tools to continue the journey.
Each participant is expected to attend Mass weekly at St. Agnes Catholic Church and to engage in scheduled events that total somewhere around another 2 hours per week. Additionally, participants will eventually desire to spend more time in prayer, reading the Scriptures, engaging in works of charity and justice and spending time in the company of other Christians. The time devoted to those activities will vary by individual but should be figured into the time commitment. The distance you live from the parish should also be figured into the time commitment.
Yes! If you determine after some time in our company that the Catholic way of following Jesus is not for you, you may just let us know. You will have companions journeying with you, plenty of time to talk 1-1 with them, to pray and to carefully consider this life-changing commitment.
There are a few elements to the answer to this question.
- If you were married before, divorced and are not currently married, then you can approach the Church for initiation. However, the Church will consider you to be married even though the law does not consider you to be. That is because the Church views marriage as a permanent state of life until a partner dies. As long as you do not re-marry, that does not prohibit becoming a Catholic. If you wish to re-marry, read on!
- If you were married once before, are divorced and re-married the answer is a bit less cut and dry. Because the Church considers marriage a permanent state of life, it is not easy to dissolve a marriage in the Church. The process that may be able to say that your marriage was not begun with the intention for it to be permanent is called an annulment. If this is your situation, it’s best to talk with the pastor or the RCIA Director to get some sense of how this might work for you.
- If you were married and your spouse has died, you are free to approach the Church for initiation.
I have a child who is older than seven years old and has never been baptized. Is all of this the same for them?
Yes, and no. Yes, in that there are the same three components to their formation for baptism, confirmation and eucharist: intellectual, spiritual and practical. They will have some learning, some activities and some spiritual experiences, adapted for their age and ability, and including you as their parent. Yes, in that the weekly time commitment includes participation in Mass and in some element of formation. No in that the time commitment outside of Mass will match their age and development, and your available time as their parent. Please remember that the process is individualized as much as possible, so we will work with you to help your child have a meaningful and well understood journey into life in Christ. However, please be aware that their journey toward baptism, confirmation and eucharist will include you as a parent, for the Church considers you to be the first and best teacher of your children in the ways of faith.
No, they do not. Might they want to consider it? Perhaps, but the Church has preparation processes for marriage that do not include also preparing to receive the other sacraments. However, we do recommend a long and serious conversation about marriage, faith and how you will live out your life together if you do not share the same faith.
I have some doubts, questions and some things I am not sure I believe that Catholics do believe. Is this process for me?
- If you are already a fully initiated Catholic, no. But we’re happy to help you with all of those inquiries in other ways.
- If you are not baptized, yes. The first part of the process is designed to meet you where you are, to help you discover responses to doubts, questions and teachings.
- If you are baptized in another Christian denomination and feel a pull to the Catholic Church, yes.
- If you are baptized in another Christian denomination and are just curious, no. But we are happy to help you find information and companions to help you learn more.
- If you are a baptized Catholic who has not completed their sacramental initiation and want to, yes. The first part of the process is designed for just this kind of exploration, attuned to your individual journey.
Curious but Undecided
What if I can’t decide? Maybe this will help…
A video entitled “Why I follow Jesus”
Maybe this resonates with you.
Looking for an intellectual argument for Catholic Christianity? Try this:
“5 Reasons to be Catholic” with Brandon Vogt.
Perhaps this touches your soul:
“How Great Thou Art” performed by a capella group Home Free
Another song to reach your soul:
“The Lord’s Prayer” performed by Jackie Evancho
A Final Note
We know God calls people to life in Christ in a variety of ways. We remain amazed at the many pathways people travel to come to us and are most grateful to meet you along the way. We’re here to answer!