How do I become a Catholic?
The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus……. No one should think that the invitation of Jesus Christ is not meant for him or her. These are the words of Pope Francis in The Joy of the Gospel, and it is this kind of faith, however fragile it may feel at times, which the Church upholds as the foundation for anyone feeling the call to become a Catholic. We encounter Jesus in the 7 sacraments, and it is 3 of these which act as the means for people to become Catholics. The Catholic Church is one of the many Christian churches in the world.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the usual way for adults to make this journey into the Church. The Church is not in favour of “quick conversions”! In view of that, time is needed to reflect, pray, and receive information and guidance before this important life decision, so several months at least are required, and more is usually better. Adults (see children below) are baptised at the Easter Vigil on the night before Easter Sunday, and they also celebrate Confirmation and their First Holy Communion (Eucharist) at the same time.
Most baptisms in the spectrum of Christian churches are recognised as valid. In view of this, the Catholic Church does not rebaptise anyone unless there is doubt concerning a previous baptism. Talk to the priest or catechist who is responding to your enquiry so he/she can understand your faith and sacramental background better. The RCIA is the usual way for baptised people from other Christian churches to become Catholics, joining in the process with any others who have not been baptised. At the Easter Vigil, they will be received into the Church through the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, and also make a very short statement confirming the Catholic Church’s guidance in their own faith.
What about children?
Children up to the age of 6 years old are baptised through the same overall process as infants, and the priest or deacon will work with their parents in preparation for this sacrament. They can be baptised throughout the year. The older children join the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC), and they will be prepared for their baptism, again with the vital support from their parents. Their baptism and First Holy Communion will take place at the Easter Vigil. They may also be confirmed, depending on their age.
How is the RCIA or RCIC done?
The needs of those who put themselves forward to make this journey of faith must be considered first and foremost. If there is a sufficient “flow” of such adults or children, a group of adults or children is more viable and it is the ideal. The RCIA or RCIC in any parish can gradually grow and establish itself, if over time it becomes more known in the area, with parishioners helping to make people aware of its existence.
Who is the first person to contact should anyone want to consider the RCIA or RCIC?
As Parish Priest, Fr Stephen oversees the initiation of adults or children through the sacraments, and he will preside over the celebration of the sacraments at the Easter Vigil. He may delegate other priests to assist in the RCIA. In fact, any of the priests can be the first point of contact in terms of getting started. Very often of course, it is members of the worshipping community who are the most important initial contacts.