How do I become a Member
of the Catholic Church?
The process of joining the Roman Catholic Church is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). The Catechumenate, as it is often called is a process by which people are prepared for acceptance into the Christian faith. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a faith journey which consists of four distinct stages.
This is the time when someone who feels drawn to the expression of Christian values begins to formally ask questions of the faith community: What do Catholics believe? Why? Who is God? How is God active in my life? What are the sacraments? This period may last only a few months or a number of years.
This stage begins with the Rite of Acceptance. Those who enter this stage are claimed for Christ and marked with the sign of the cross. They are then called catechumens if they are unbaptized, or candidates if they have already been baptized in another tradition. This period of the RCIA is a time for the catechumens and candidates to deepen in faith and commitment to Christ. Although they are not yet able to share at the table of the Eucharist, they participate in the Liturgy of the Word each Sunday. This stage of RCIA usually lasts a year or more. It includes formal sessions on Catholic teaching and practice and is an opportunity for the individual to grow in prayer and mature in faith. With the support of the parish, catechists, sponsors the catechumens and candidates steadily conform their lives to Gospel values. They continue to deepen their relationship with Christ, and when they, with the guidance of their catechist, discern that they are ready, enter into the next stage of the catechumenate, Purification & Enlightenment.
Purification & Enlightenment
This stage begins on the first Sunday of Lent with the Rite of Election and the call to ongoing conversion. In local parishes, catechumens inscribe their name in a book which is presented to the Bishop in a ceremony at the cathedral later that day. At the Rite of Election, the Bishop elects (chooses) the catechumens in the name of Christ to receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at Easter. The Bishop also calls the candidates to continue growing in their faith as they prepare for these sacraments. The next 40 days are intensive days of preparation to receive the sacraments at Easter. The local community accompanies the Elect (the unbaptized) and Candidates (already baptized) by participation in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Special rites of interior searching, known as the scrutinies, are celebrated with the elect and candidates. These take place on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. This period of RCIA culminates at the Easter Vigil with baptism for those who are unbaptized and a profession of faith for those who are baptized, confirmation and the reception of Eucharist. This completes the third stage of the journey.
This final phase of the RCIA finds the Neophytes rejoicing in their awareness of God's presence in them and around them. Now, instead of leaving after the homily, they remain with the community to pray and eat at the banquet of the Eucharist. This period concludes with the Feast of Pentecost when the neophytes are sent to share their experience of Christ with others.
For more information please contact Deacon Mike Haas at 408-245-5554, ext 29