How does a person become Catholic? The short answer is to contact the local Catholic Church in their community and ask to speak with the RCIA director or the Adult Education Dept. They will explain the process and periods. The process can take about a year unless you have some type of issue that will not allow you to complete your sacraments. Those type impediments would be former marriages that need to be annulled, use of birth control and co-habitation. Additionally if you have a strong background and understanding in another faith, it may not take as long. Along the way you will hear the word Journey and that. s what the conversion to the Catholic Church will be, a spiritual journey.
So what is RCIA and what is involved with that process? First, RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian initiation of Adults. The year is divided into several parts and each person who are first known as inquiries, will travel though these periods. The Pre-Catechumenate is the first stage. It. s also known as the Period of Inquiry.
Once you have decided to proceed, you will go through3 other periods. They are the Catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment, which are the 6 weeks of Lent, and Mystagogy, the period after you make your sacraments that runs right though Pentecost.
For now let. s review the Pre-Catechumenate because at this point there is still discernment as to whether or not to go through the process. This is the point that the Inquirer will work though the process and work to become Catholic. So what is involved with this period. The first thing that you can expect is an interview with the RCIA director. This interview will have you tell your story as to why you are seeking out the Catholic Church. It will also identify issues, like above, annulments, co-habitation are serious impediments to coming into the church. Don. t be upset with these questions. It is just a matter to of seeing where you are at and what processes need to be put in place for each person to complete their sacraments should they decide to continue.
The RCIA Director will also ascertain if you have been baptized or not. If you are baptized in a Trinitarian manner, in other words, in the name of The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, your Baptism will be accepted by the Catholic Church. If you are unbaptized or Baptized in a faith such as Mormon, you enter the Catechumenate as a catechumen and will be baptized and confirmed at Easter Vigil.
Now is the time for questions. Each of the Pre Catechumenate meetings will give the inquirer the opportunity to challenge the Church and learn from the Catholic Perspective. This is the time to review the Bible and start finding out what the Church Laws or Canon says on topics and how everything in the Church is rooted in the Bible.
You will find you are not alone and that there are others in this group going through this process with you. Reaching back to the early days of the church, you are in a group with other inquirers now. This is rooted in the early church because just as the Apostles went to small communities they worked with small groups towards their conversion to Christianity and you with your parish RCIA team will work towards your conversion.
Beth has a full line of RCIA Gifts and religious medals