INQUIRY INTO BECOMING CATHOLIC
Interested in what the Catholic Church teaches? Curious to clear up questions you have about the Catholic Church? Baptized Catholic, but haven’t received further sacraments? Do you desire to become Catholic?
There are a few ways to learn more. One way is to read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which can be purchased at most book stores; and is also available for free (click its title above). You may also find the podcasting of Fr. Troy Nevins’ homilies, as well as other talks in our podcast center helpful for learning.
So where do you begin?
First, contact our RCIA Coordinator, Stefanie, and she can answer initial questions, point you in a general direction and/or let you know when sessions are running. Call Stefanie Iwan at 241-4477 Ext. 105 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
RCIA The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is the process by which most non-Catholic adults join the Catholic Church. This includes non-Christians seeking to become Catholic and other Christians who seek full communion (membership) with the Church. RCIA in not limited to interaction with clergy and the RCIA team; it is shared with the entire congregation – the Body of Christ. At times during the conversion journey, acknowledgments are made in front of the congregation. These Rites introduce the candidates, emphasize the importance of their progress and ask the congregation’s prayers and support.
There are several stages and Rites in the RCIA process.
Inquiry can be similar to the time you take to get to know someone to see if you are interested in dating them. Basic subject matter is covered in Inquiry meetings (Trinity, Incarnation, Paschal Mystery, and the Church) as well as time spent on discussion questions from the inquirers.
In Inquiry, there is no formal commitment to the Church because the person is simply inquiring more about the Catholic Church.
PERIOD OF THE CATECHUMENATE
Once a person is beyond any major questions or concerns they may have had with the Church, they can enter into the stage of the CATECHUMENATE, meaning they are now recognized by the Church as receiving formal instruction in the teachings of the Catholic Church. There is less time for basic Questions and Answers and more time on the presentation of the truths of the Catholic faith. There may be time to discuss the topics with a SPONSOR during the meeting as well. A sponsor is an appointed person from the parish that walks with you through the entire preparation period of coming into full communion with the Catholic Church.
CATECHUMEN OR CANDIDATE?
At the end of “Inquiry” and beginning the next stage we celebrate the combined Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming. This begins the Period of the Catechumenate, a time of continued catechesis, prayer and worship, to help our candidates grow in faith and understanding of the teachings of the Catholic Church.
The Catechumenate “is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life.” (Vatican Council II, Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity Ad gentes, no. 14) “This catechesis leads the catechumens not only to an appropriate acquaintance with dogmas and precepts but also to a profound sence of the mystery of salvation in which they desire to participate.”
Those persons who are already BAPTIZED in a Christian Faith through water and the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” are referred to as CANDIDATES once entering the period of the Catechumenate. those unbaptized persons are referred to as CATECHUMENS once entering the period of the Catechumante.”
The length of time for this period depends on many things: the disposition of the person to the call of the Holy Spirit draws some sooner than others. When the catechumen is ready to move forward, the next period begins.
PERIOD OF PURIFICATION & ENLIGHTENMENT
This period, usually during Lent is a time to not focus so much on content, but to reflect upon entering into full communion of the Catholic Church. PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT is much like being engaged to a person. By this time you are nearly 100% sure you want to enter into a COVENANT relationship with the other party; and instead of focusing so much on learning about the other person, you spend more time in prayerful preparation for the day you enter into the covenant.
During this period, more time is spent with the WORD OF GOD in prayer, focusing on the CREED and other Liturgical RITES and Prayers, as well as personal prayer and with the group.
The Rite of Christian Initiation, that is, the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for the catechumens takes place during the Easter Vigil, the most important Mass of the Liturgical Church year. Those candidates who were previously baptized will profess the faith of the Church and come into full commuion wiht their new Catholic brothers and sisters.
The period of post baptismal catechesis is the Mystagogy period. This “honeymoon” stage deepens the faith of the neophytes (new Christians) and the community together. Our journey in faith is never ending, but the Mystagogy period formally continues to expand the mysteries of the faith and broaden the scope of the Body of Christ to the neophyte so that they will grow in holiness, love and service.