RCIA - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What is RCIA?
RCIA is the ancient process by which adults come into communion with the Catholic Church. Various parts of the process are marked by RITES or rituals, which will mostly be experienced during Sunday mass.
It is a spiritual journey of the discovery of God, who Jesus is, the gospel message, and what it means to be a disciple in fellowship with God and others in the faith.
Classes involve prayer, bible study, and fellowship with other disciples. RCIA is a process rather than a program meant to focus on faith development and maturing one’s relationship with God.
Who is the R.C.I.A. for?
- It is for those who have never been baptized and are seeking information on becoming a Catholic Christian.
- It is for those who are baptized and have joined us from another Christian denomination but have little knowledge and experience of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. The Catholic Church respects your Christian upbringing and the faith experiences that are part of your life. Becoming Catholic does not mean rejecting your previous faith background. You can now live it out in the Catholic Church.
- It is for adult Catholics who would like to complete the sacraments of initiation: (Eucharist and Confirmation)
- It is for anyone considering Catholicism as a way of life who wishes to explore the tenets of the faith to inform their decision.
Am I obligated to become Catholic?
There is no obligation on participants to become members of the Catholic Church. Anyone seeking information about the Catholic faith is welcome to attend our sessions. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions and dialog with the material. There are times during the RCIA process for you to explore your intentions and continue to discern God’s call. Everything shared during the sessions will be treated with confidentiality and respect. The RCIA is a time of exploration, where people can ask questions and learn about the Church. People coming from other faith groups may have many questions about Catholicism, and areas where they don’t feel comfortable. Don’t worry. Each person is given the space to question, to think for themselves, and to take all the time they need to make a decision about joining the Church.
What if I get started and decide this isn’t for me?
Faith in God and the decision to become a member of the Catholic Church are personal choices that must be made in an atmosphere of complete freedom. We will try our best to help you understand what it means to be a Catholic Christian. But we sincerely believe that you must be allowed to use God’s gifts of conscience and free will without feeling any pressure from us.
Does anyone help me during the process?
The RCIA team and our priests and deacons of St. Peter Church are always willing to help. In addition, during the process inquirers will select a sponsor or godparent who is a practicing Catholic and will serve as a spiritual friend and guide. If the individual does not know anyone who is Catholic, the RCIA team will find a suitable sponsor for them.
What do sponsors do?
Sponsors actively participate in our meetings and celebration of the Sacraments. They converse regularly with the participant in an ongoing process of faith development. Their promise is to be good listeners and to help participants to know where God is leading them without pushing them in any direction.
What are some aspects of the process?
- STUDY: RCIA sessions are weekly on Monday evenings
- WORSHIP: The expectation is that the candidate attends Sunday Mass weekly
- PRAYER: Through participation in Sunday Mass, retreats, personal devotions
- SOCIAL: The community is an important aspect of Christian life.Participation in various parish events is encouraged.
- SERVICE: Outreach to others is essential to the Christian way of life. Sponsors introduce their candidates to the opportunities available and help make the connections.
What are the phases of RCIA?
Our RCIA year is segregated into periods: Inquiry, Catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment (Lent), and Mystagogy (post baptismal catechesis).
I’m not much of a student. Is this a “class”?
We meet in a classroom but it shouldn’t be considered a “class”. We want you to discover God on a personal level. There are no tests, no grades. It is a time for you to grow in the awareness of your relationship with God and with the Catholic Church.
May I bring my spouse/fiancé to the sessions?
Yes, you may. We encourage your spouse/fiancé to attend the sessions with you.
If I’m already baptized, do I get baptized again when I join the Catholic Church?
In the Catholic Church, we believe that there is only one baptism and this was formulated by Jesus Christ himself (see Matthew 28:19). A valid baptism has the following formula: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” as water is poured over the individual. Most mainstream Christian denominations use this form, and therefore these baptisms are recognized. In this case, you would make a ‘Profession of Faith’ in the Catholic Church prior to receiving your First Holy Communion and Confirmation as a Catholic. We do not re-baptize. For some faiths that do not use the above formula, the baptism would not be recognized; therefore, you would receive Baptism as part of joining the Catholic Church. If you have more questions regarding which denomination’s baptisms are recognized, please discuss with the RCIA Director upon registration.
Why does it take so long to become Catholic?
Joining the Catholic Church is a major life decision! The process is lengthy (from 8-12 months) in part because there is a lot of information to learn, but more importantly, because joining the Catholic faith encompasses your whole self—not just mind, but heart too. We hope by the end of the process you are not just receiving the title of Catholic, but an entire way of life; that you are a different person than you were when it began and living out what you just learned! Important, life-changing events like this take time; and even when class is over, your formation as a Catholic is not over, but rather it is a life-long process of growing in relationship with Christ.
Do I have to attend every session?
Our desire is to have you attend all sessions. RCIA is certainly a place where you will learn about what the Catholic Church believes and teaches; however, it is much more than that. It is a process of getting to know Jesus Christ and growing together in community. RCIA is a process of conversion to a life with Christ. This process takes time and commitment on your part.
Why do I have to wait to receive communion until I’m Catholic?
Catholics believe that Communion, or the Holy Eucharist, is the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. When Catholics receive Communion, we are not only saying ‘yes’ (“Amen”) to this fact, but also we are saying yes to our unity with the Catholic Church in belief of the doctrines, laws and authority of the Church leaders. When a person joins the Catholic Church through Baptism or making a Profession of Faith, he or she is publicly proclaiming unity in belief of our doctrines. It is only then that he or she is really saying the same ‘yes’ and can thus receive Eucharist. It’s not about being worthy or not; it’s about being in communion with the people and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Can a Catholic attend to learn more about their faith?
Yes, we would love to have you join us to learn more about your Catholic faith!