Becoming Catholic - Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
The RCIA, which stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is a process through which non-baptized men and women enter the Catholic Church. It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism.
The three sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist - closely combine to bring us, the faithful of Christ, to his full stature and to enable us to carry out the mission of the entire people of God in the Church and in the world.
If a person has been baptized in another Christian tradition, the initiation process prepares you to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church by celebrating the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist or Holy Communion.
Baptism - Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God’s people. This first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit.
Confirmation - Hence we are called and are indeed the children of God. By signing us with the gift of the Spirit, confirmation makes us more completely the image of the Lord and fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that we may bear witness to him before all the world and work to bring the Body of Christ to its fullness as soon as possible.
Eucharist (Holy Communion) - Finally, coming to the table of the Eucharist, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man so that we may have eternal life and show forth the unity of God’s people. By offering ourselves with Christ, we share in the universal sacrifice, that is, the entire community of the redeemed offered to God by their High Priest, and we pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of God’s family.
To learn more about RCIA in the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Contact:
|Sylvia Garcia||Adult Faith Formation Coordinator & RCIA||(214) 379-2857|
Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming Catholic
How do I find out about Catholicism?
One of the best ways is to contact a Catholic parish near you to let them know that you are interested in finding out more about the Catholic Faith. (How do I find a Catholic parish near me?) You will be invited to join with others like yourself as you inquire into what "being Catholic" is all about: who we are, what we believe, how we live our lives, how we pray, and more.
If you are interested in reading about Catholicism, there are a number of excellent resources available. One extensive compendium of Catholic beliefs is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which you can explore online or order from your favorite bookstore.
What if I think that I want to become Catholic?
We believe that God calls individuals to live the Good News Jesus proclaimed and to become his disciples as members of the Catholic Church. If you want to become Catholic, you will participate in a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (sometimes called RCIA or simply Christian initiation). Adults or children who have reached the age of reason (about 7 years old) learn about the teachings of Jesus as the Catholic Church has handed them on and put these teachings into practice by living as part of the Catholic community, serving others and praying.
Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands of men and women are received into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new members through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and at a liturgy bringing men and women into full communion with the Catholic Church.
What does initiation into the Catholic Church entail?
If you have not been baptized, the Christian initiation process prepares you to become a Catholic Christian by celebrating what we call the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist or Holy Communion.
If you have been baptized in another Christian tradition, the initiation process prepares you to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church by celebrating the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist or Holy Communion.
What are the steps of RCIA?
Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate - Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, a shorter time. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church.
Rite of Acceptance - After a conversation with a priest, or RCIA director, the person, known as an "inquirer," may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a "catechumen."
Period of the Catechumenate- The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this journey. During this time, the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they need to make to respond to God's inspiration, and what Baptism in the Catholic Church means. When a catechumen and the priest and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election. Even before the catechumens are baptized, they have a special relationship to the Church.
Rite of Election - The Rite of Election includes the enrollment of names of all those seeking baptism at the coming Easter Vigil. Typically, on the first Sunday of Lent, the catechumens, their sponsors and families gather at the cathedral church. The catechumens publicly express their desire for baptism to the diocesan bishop. Their names are recorded in a book and they are called "the elect."
Purification and Enlightment - The days of Lent are the final period of purification and enlightenment leading up to the Easter Vigil. Lent is a period of preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the elect, and prayers for them by the parish communities.
Sacraments of Initiation - The Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation takes place during the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday when the catechumen receives the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is fully initiated into the Catholic Church.
Mystagogy - After the person is initiated, formation and education continue in the period of the post baptismal catechesis, which is called "mystagogy." This period continues at least until Pentecost. During the period the newly baptized members reflect on their experiences at the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition they reflect on how they will serve Christ and help in the Church's mission and outreach activities.
How long does it take to become a Catholic?
Becoming Catholic is a life-long commitment. However, the Christian initiation process typically lasts for several months or longer in order to prepare to take this step. Participants in the initiation process generally meet once or twice each week, including part of the Mass on Sunday, but each parish initiation schedule varies. The initiation of individuals who are ready to become new members of the Catholic Church may take place at Easter (in March or April) or at other times throughout the year.
What if I change my mind?
You do not make any commitment or obligation by inquiring about Catholicism or beginning the Christian initiation process. We want you to take the time you need as you think about becoming Catholic and we respect your decision to stop or to say, "not right now" at any time. While we love being Catholic and hope that others will want to become Catholic also, we do not exert pressure on anyone to do so. Our hope would be that at the very least, you would come to a greater appreciation of Catholic beliefs and practices.
Search the Catholic Diocese of Dallas Parish Finder to locate a parish or school near where you live or work.
What else can I do?
We are glad that you have visited this site and we hope that we have given you information to help you find out more about the Catholic faith. If you wish, you could say the following prayer:
God, help me to be see your presence and hear your voice in the world around me. Guide me on my journey and lead me to you. Amen.
Online Resources / Recursos complementarios en internet
- Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (USCCB.org)
- The Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Vatican. va)