Adults preparing for baptism go through a process known as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Persons discerning their call to become Catholic generally attend classes for one year prior to the Easter Vigil. All adults are baptized at the Easter Vigil, and receive the sacrament of Confirmation immediately after their baptism. Adults then receive Eucharist for the first time during the same liturgy.
Classes are held on Monday evenings from 7pm to 8:30pm in Brendan House (the office building) in the lower level.
Baptism is the first sacrament of Christian initiation. It is the sacrament that frees a person from original sin and makes that person a member of Christ and His Church, thus being the way to a new and spiritual life. It is administered by immersing the recipient in water or by pouring water on the person’s head “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. One must be baptized before sharing in any of the other sacraments. Baptism is the foundation for all ministry and life in the church, and confers a commitment to follow Christ and spread his message throughout the world. Furthermore, in baptism, one is incorporated into the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and thus participates in the gift of resurrection and eternal life with Christ.
Adults who have never been baptized take part in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), and will typically be baptized at the Easter Vigil. The Catholic Church recognizes baptisms from other Christian denominations that baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, a person can only be baptized once.
Questions and Answers about RCIA
Frequently Asked Questions
Who must attend RCIA?
People who have not received the sacrament of Baptism must attend RCIA for an extended period — ideally, a year, and preferably longer. The length of the process depends greatly on your readiness for the reception of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
I’m already baptized in another denomination. Do I need to attend RCIA?
That depends. The Catholic Church doesn’t re-baptize people who are already baptized. If you are baptized but never received any instruction in the faith, you should receive instruction now and finish any sacraments you didn’t complete. We strongly recommend RCIA, even if you have been well instructed in another faith tradition, since you will need to learn how the beliefs and practices you grew up with differ from the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church.
I think I was baptized, but am not sure. What kind of information do I need to join RCIA?
If your church or congregation kept records, you’ll need to obtain a copy of your baptismal record — a certificate or a letter from the pastor there. Because locating records can be difficult or time-consuming, you should try to obtain these records as early in the process as possible. We must see these records to confirm your baptismal status before you’re received into the Church. If your church or congregation did not keep records or no longer exists, we can discuss this privately.
I’ve been divorced but am not remarried. Can I become Catholic?
Certainly. Unless you plan to marry, you do not need to obtain an annulment. If you are planning to remarry, you will need to have your prior marriage reviewed to see if you can be declared free to marry in the Catholic Church
I’ve been divorced and am remarried, and my spouse is divorced and remarried. Can I become Catholic?
You and your current spouse need to begin the annulment process, and you should begin it as soon as possible even if your spouse is not considering entry into the Church. Please contact the parish staff for information on how to proceed. Of course, you can attend RCIA instructions while the annulment process is ongoing. But reception into the Church has to wait until the annulment process has been completed.
What’s the cutoff date for joining RCIA?
Currently, RCIA starts the first Sunday after Labor Day, and runs through the weekend of Pentecost (about 10 months later). Unbaptized persons who have had no previous religious instruction should join as early as possible, and are encouraged to take more than the 10-month period. For other people, the “cutoff date” depends on your faith level and readiness to receive the sacraments.
How long does RCIA last?
Inquiry sessions (also known as Pre-Catechumenate) take place all year long Inquiry is designed to help you decide whether you want to continue, since RCIA is a serious commitment. Please note that although Baptism and reception into the Church occur at Easter, RCIA does not end until Pentecost. This is a time for you to consolidate what you have learned, and to explore more about life in the Catholic Church. All new Catholics who complete RCIA are urged to attend Neophyte sessions.
My schedule doesn’t permit me to attend your sessions. What should I do?
There are a couple of options. We may be able to arrange catechesis in a private setting with a qualified parishioner. Also, other parishes meet at different times, and you may prefer to attend one of them. We can provide information on when and where other parishes in the area offer instruction.
I heard I need a sponsor in order to become Catholic. What is that, and how do I get one?
A sponsor is a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church who accompanies you on your journey through RCIA. The sponsor has the job of helping you through the process, and of verifying at the main rites that you are ready to take the next step. For baptism, the sponsor may become your godparent, with more serious responsibilities toward the catechumen being sponsored. Or you may choose someone else to be godparent. If you don’t know anyone, the parish will provide a sponsor for you.
I know who I want my sponsor to be, but that person doesn’t live locally and can’t attend sessions. Can that person still be my sponsor?
Yes. However, we will provide someone locally to represent that sponsor, accompany you on an ongoing basis and instructions and the rites with you. At the Easter Vigil, the sponsor you prefer will then stand in the local person’s place as your official sponsor.
I have children. Do you provide child care?
Unfortunately, no. If you need child care, you should arrange your own or (if your children are well behaved) you can bring them to instructional sessions. If you and your spouse are attending RCIA together, you might try alternating attendance. If childcare is still a difficulty, please contact one of the RCIA team members.
How old should a person be to attend RCIA?
Technically, old enough to understand what is being taught. For children of catechetical age (ages 7 to 18), we can provide catechists for their grade level.
What texts do you use and how do I get them?
We use Foundations in Faith, the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you have a Bible of your own, please bring it. We would like you to own a Catholic edition of Scripture, and will assist you in getting one. We provide other materials — a syllabus of subjects covered, handouts, and occasionally printed materials, as well.