Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
How does one become Catholic?
What is the R.C.I.A.?
Why become Catholic?
How does one become a Catholic?
The Catholic Church is a family of faith. To become a member of this family it is necessary that a period of formation take place. The goal of this formation is to pass on the heritage of our family. This heritage includes what we believe, how we worship God, and how we live as disciples of Jesus. How long and what this period of formation looks like depends on your personal situation.
Not Baptized: If you are not baptized, you must go through the R.C.I.A. process and receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.
Baptized/Not Catechized: If you are baptized, but were not raised in a practicing Christian family, you also would need to go through the R.C.I.A. process.
Baptized/Catechized: Finally, if you are baptized and were raised in a practicing Christian family and have extensive connection to the Catholic Church, you do not have to go through the entire R.C.I.A. process. A shorter time of preparation is necessary and you may be received into the Church whenever you are ready.
In all situations, the first step is to contact your local parish and speak to a priest or the Director of the R.C.I.A. program. At Holy Angels, please call (630) 897-1194.
What is the R.C.I.A.?
The R.C.I.A. is the process by which adults and their children become members of the Catholic Church. The process is based on the Catechumenate which the early Church used to facilitate the formation necessary for a convert to follow in the footsteps of Christ.
Like the process in the early Church, the formation is sensitive to your individual needs before you make any commitment to the Catholic Church. Therefore, the process is divided into four periods. The periods are as follows.
Period of Inquiry
This first period focuses on presenting the basics of the Catholic faith and answering any questions you have. (You may continue to attend Catholic Inquiry sessions for as long as you desire. No commitments are made or expected during this time.) If, after having your questions answered and hearing the faith simply and clearly presented, your interest in becoming Catholic has changed to a desire to enter the Church, you are ready for the next step. The length of this period depends on the need of the individual.
Period of the Catechumenate
This period begins with a public ceremony in the Church called the Rite of Acceptance. In this Rite you become a member of the Church, although not a fully initiated member. The formation of this period consists of a comprehensive presentation of the faith, introduction into the life (prayer and worship) of the Church, and guidance in living a moral life. Once this formation is complete you are ready to move forward. Again, the length of this period depends on the needs of each individual.
Period of Enlightenment
This period begins with another public ceremony called the Rite of Election. In this Rite, you come before the bishop and reaffirm your intention to join the Church. You have now entered the final period of preparation before fully entering the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The formation of this period is much more reflective and prayerful as you get ready to receive the great gifts of grace from your Lord. the season of Lent is when this formation takes place.
At the Easter Vigil, held Holy Saturday evening, you will receive the Sacraments of Initiation and become a fully initiated member of the Church. As the Church celebrates Christ's resurrection, you will become a new creation through these sacraments.
Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis
During the weeks of the Easter Season you will learn at a new level the great mysteries you have received and the mission to witness the love of Christ to the world. This occurs because of the grace you have received in the sacraments. This final period is a reminder that the initiation process is not the end of becoming a Christian, but merely the beginning of becoming one.
Why become Catholic?
For every individual the answer is different. But, from the perspective of the Catholic Church there is one answer that applies to every man, woman, and child. God wants all mankind to be united into one holy family worshiping Him in Spirit and truth. Christ established the Catholic Church to be the family of God. This role was given to her by Christ when He said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit..."(Matthew 28:19) Christ gave the Apostles the fullness of truth and grace in order that the Church could accomplish her mission. That fullness still resides in the Catholic Church through her teachings and sacraments.
I invite you to come and see if the Church truly is what she believes herself to be, the family of God established by Christ. To learn more about the Church, please contact your local priest or call the Holy Angels Parish Center at (630)897-1194.