I Want to Become Catholic
Wow. That is great!!!
To become Catholic, the Church has a ministry call the RCIA which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is a ministry that through a series of catechesis (teaching the faith) sessions and liturgical (public worship) events, one is brought into the Church. It is a process of learning the Good News of Jesus Christ as revealed by the Bible and by Catholic Tradition. The program explores the teachings, practices, and history of the Catholic Church. RCIA is the modern version of the initiation process begun by the early Church to fulfill Jesus' command to “go forth and baptize all nations.”
The steps of the ministry will vary based on your previous experiences with religion and if you are baptized into a recognized Christion denomination.
Is there a charge for RCIA?
RCIA is free. A volunteer team arranges the meetings and the parish supplies books and materials.
Do I have to join the Church after the RCIA course?
You are under no obligation at any point in time. We are more than happy to share our faith. Joining or not joining the Church is your personal decision.
How Can I Get More Information?
Please call the St. Joseph Parish office at 334-2638.
The RCIA is divided into distinct segments, much like the formal education that we received in school. Each successive period expands on the basic information in the period that preceded it. And, much like education, the farther one progresses along a faith journey, the deeper the realization that there is so much more to know and to seek.
Period of Inquiry
RCIA begins with a period of inquiry. The Holy Spirit approaches each of us in different ways. Years of marriage to a Catholic spouse, conversations with a Catholic friend, or even something viewed in the media can move an adult toward membership in the Catholic Church.
The process formally begins when the person contacts the parish and begins to meet with other adults who are also inquiring about the Catholic faith. Through prayer and reflection, inquirers discern their call to move further toward becoming full members of the Church.
Rite of Acceptance
When the inquirers are sure of their desire for initiation and continuation in the study of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, they are admitted into the next step through a special ceremony called the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. In this ritual the Church symbolically claims these men and women for Christ by signing them with the cross.
After this rite, the inquirers are called catechumens. This name indicates that they are learning the teachings of the Church and beginning to accept Catholic tradition and practices.
Each catechumen is accompanied by a sponsor. A sponsor may be chosen by the individual or provided by the parish. Sponsors play a special role throughout the rest of the process.
Even though they are not yet permitted to receive the sacraments, catechumens do enjoy other important rights. They have a right to assistance as they grow in faith by learning about the teachings of the Church and participating in works of service in the parish. They also have a right to be married in the Church and to receive Christian burial.
The time of the catechumenate is spent gradually drawing the catechumen into the day to day life of the Catholic Christian. This involves further instruction, reflection, and participation, in part, in the celebration of the Mass.
Rite of Election
The period of the catechumenate ends when the catechumens discern, with the help of their sponsor and the RCIA team, that God is calling them to receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and first Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil. Before they can be initiated, they must be officially called to the sacraments by the bishop or someone designated by him. This Rite of Election is celebrated at a local parish with our bishop.
Purification and Enlightenment
The Rite of Election marks the end of formal study of the teachings and practices of the Church. The catechumens are now called the elect. The weeks of Lent are a time of intense prayer as the elect prepare themselves to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord at Easter and to receive the sacraments of initiation.
On the Sundays of Lent, the elect are prayed for in a special way to help them prepare more fully for the sacraments. The sponsors continue to accompany the elect in church and support them in their Lenten preparations.
The Easter Vigil
On Holy Saturday, the parish assembles for Easter Vigil. The Church has always recognized that in baptism we die to sin in Christ's death so that we may rise to new life with him. The Easter Vigil is the primary celebration of the Lord's resurrection and is, therefore, the most appropriate occasion for the elect to celebrate their Baptism, Confirmation, and first Eucharist.
For the newly initiated, now called neophytes, the time between Easter and Pentecost is a special opportunity to reflect on the commitment that they have made to the Lord, to the Church, and to the local parish community. This time of unfolding the meaning of the initiation sacraments is called Mystagogia. The Sunday scripture readings, which explain the meaning of the resurrection and of baptism, have special meaning for these new Catholics.
During this season the bishop will gather the neophytes for a special Eucharistic (thanksgiving) celebration called the Mass of the Neophytes. This Mass is celebrated in the Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary in Toledo.