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Have you been hungering for more in life, and are attracted to the Catholic faith? Are you coming to believe in Jesus Christ and his great love for you, and are wanting to find a home in which to live out your new found joy and belief? Are you full of questions about life, God and Catholic belief, and want to explore further?
We hear at times of people who were either married to a Catholic or friends with Catholics, and grew in their attraction to our faith. But they never realised they could join! Other people tell how they would even walk past the church or hover around outside Mass, wanting to be part of the community but never having the courage or knowing how to connect.
Your first step is simply to share your desire. It really is a great joy to wish to know more about the Catholic Church. Speak to Catholics you know who have a great love for their faith. If you know of a Catholic Church nearby, see if you can make an appointment to see the priest. If you are unsure where to start, or just want to chat to someone, make an enquiry.
What happens when I tell someone?
What is involved in my preparation?
Do not worry! You won't be signed up on the spot. Expressing a desire or question about the Catholic faith is a start of a journey. Our Church will assist you in exploring and deepening your understanding of our faith and how we live it, but there is no expectation or pressure on you to join. That is between you and God and the Catholic community. In our diocese there are a couple of pathways you may follow.
A priest may decide to accompany you, sometimes involving other Catholics, in a series of get togethers. You will probably hear more about the various beliefs and practices of our faith, which should help you decide if the Catholic Church is for you. You may also be encouraged in prayer and participation in various Catholic community events and mission and outreach activities.
The other approach is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This process is the formal way people are received into the Church and is described in more detail below.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The process called RCIA is not one with time limits or a specific amount of time in which you will finish and become a Catholic. Usually the process takes the best part of a year, but is largely dependent on your readiness. It mainly depends on your circumstances; people with a marriage case to be annulled may take a bit longer than others. People with a strong background in another faith and in Scripture may take less time than others. Of course, you may also decide through your enquiry to not pursue your desire at this time. If youare from another Christian faith, your baptism will be recognised by the Catholic Church. In this case, you do not go through the formal RCIA, but are treated are a candidate and are received into full communion, usually at Easter time through the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.
You may be wondering what is involved in the RCIA process, or the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. There are several periods in this process; the beginning period is called a time of Inquiry or the Pre-Catechumenate. The other periods are called the, Catechumenate, Enlightenment and Purification, and Mystagogy. These periods of the process are all preceded by formal Rites with the assembly that will be your affirmation to the community as well as yourself that you are ready to move on in your journey towards the Easter Vigil, your initiation into our Catholic Christian community.
The Pre-Catechumenate or Inquiry period is when you make the decision to call and ask about the Catholic faith. You have felt God's first stirrings in your heart and want to act on this need to be nearer to God. During this call you will probably talk to the parish priest and he will find out your needs and make arrangements to have the RCIA coordinator call you when it is most convenient for you. The co-ordinator will need to make an appointment to meet with you for an initial interview. The interview will cover the story of your life until this point in time; the coordinator will take notes or have a short form for you to fill out.
The Pre-Catechumenate is a time for the inquirers (you) to ask questions. Most of the sessions will be based on the questions you ask and more than likely the person who meets with you will be able to share scripture readings with you that relate to the questions you ask. This period is a good time to start reading the Bible if you haven't started already. If you do not have a Bible just let the person meeting with you know. If you need assistance with using one the team person will be glad to help you learn. This is also a time to tell your story, how your life has been guided by God to get here to this point. Your story will blend in with the others who are here with you. Each Sunday at Mass you will hear a part of the story of God and how the story of God's people have been added to a time in history. You will hear at Easter how from the very first day of creation we were a grand part of God's story and how we have made God a part of our lives by re-telling this story over and over through the years. Through our telling of this story we have made it a part of our story, and we walk our journey keeping God's word in our minds, on our lips and in our hearts so that we may share it with the world.
The Catechumenate begins when you decide to formalise your decision to become a Catholic. If you are not baptised you are known as a catechumen. During the Easter Vigil mass you will be baptised and confirmed. If you are baptised already you will be a candidate for full communion into the Catholic faith. At the Easter vigil you will make a profession of faith with the community and be confirmed. The candidates and catechumens will both receive their first communion at this Mass. As you journey towards Easter, you will be accompanied by the community of faith and deepen your understanding and life in the Catholic Church.
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Brochure: How to become Catholic (383.81 kB)