Many avenues lead individuals to the Catholic Church. A conversation with a Catholic friend or coworker may bring about an inquiry into Catholicism. A visit to a Catholic church for a wedding or a funeral may pique curiosity. Perhaps something read in the newspaper or seen on television sparks an interest in Catholicism. Many people reach a point where they find themselves asking questions about life’s meaning, world issues, and their own direction. Some individuals have been inactive members of a Christian denomination and are now seeking a richer spiritual life.
What has been your spiritual path?
The journey of faith can be a winding road. You may not have been raised in faith. Family circumstances as a child may have provided you with a firm foundation of belief and prayer, or you may have been left on your own to choose your religious beliefs. Sometimes, regardless of early religious practice, individuals go for a long period before they sense that something is missing in life and set out to search anew for God.
Whatever path has led you to this time of searching or interest in renewing your vocation as a baptized Christian, the Catholic Church stands committed to building on the faith and experience you bring.
What would be required of me if, as a baptized Christian, I wanted to become a Roman Catholic?
The Church does not want to place unnecessary obstacles or burdens in your path to becoming Catholic. But the Church wants to help you deepen your faith and offer you a thorough understanding and appreciation for Catholic beliefs and practice. The catechesis and formation in preparation for your being received into the Catholic Church will depend on your background and what you might need to live a full and active Catholic life.
While Christians hold many fundamental beliefs in common, many Catholic doctrines and traditions are not shared by all. The fuller your exposure to Catholicism, the more fruitful will be your experience of Catholic life.
Becoming a Catholic involves both faith as a gift from God and the whole community. In this community you will find women and men whose faith will influence your faith. You will value their company as they apprentice you in the prayer and service and the life and mission of the Church.
Would I be baptized again in the Catholic Church?
If you were baptized with flowing water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church respects that Baptism. Baptism is the sacrament of our rebirth in Christ and our immersion into his saving death and Resurrection. It can never be repeated. Once we are claimed by Christ in Baptism, we are forever marked as the adopted sons and daughters of God.
Is there a ritual in which I would be received as a Catholic?
Once you have been sufficiently prepared through catechesis, prayer and worship, and an introduction to Catholic life, values, and mission, you will be asked to make a profession of faith with your Catholic parish community. You will be asked to express your acceptance of Catholic teaching and to make a clear intention to live as a Catholic for the rest of your life. In this same ceremony, you will be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Confirmation and receive Holy Communion at the table of the Eucharist. The Church calls this ceremony the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church.
You will be asked to select a sponsor who can accompany you on this journey of faith to the Catholic Church. Your sponsor, in addition to offering you support, encouragement, and good witness the way, will also stand with you when you make your solemn profession of faith and are confirmed.
Will I be expected to celebrate the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation?
You will be invited to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation prior to being received into full communion with the Church. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, we are freed of sins committed after Baptism. In the sacrament of Reconciliation, the Lord offers us a new beginning, and so it is appropriate to celebrate this sacrament as you prepare to make your solemn profession of faith in the Catholic Church. For Catholics, the confession of all our serious sins followed by sacramental absolution is required before we partake of the Holy Eucharist.
Is my reception into the Church the same as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is primarily intended for those who are unbaptized and preparing to receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil. Several rites and stages are part of the process of preparing adults for Baptism. However, much that is part of a typical RCIA parish process could be applicable and valuable for those who are preparing for reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. In particular, a shared catechesis and spiritual formation may be offered to candidates who are preparing for a profession of faith in the Catholic Church. Each parish community will have its own pastoral plan for ministering to those who wish to become Catholic that is governed by the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the pastoral vision of the Church for forming new Catholics.
What if I am unbaptized?
As implied in the above question, an unbaptized adult participates in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. This process is more comprehensive and through than that which might be offered to Christians who want to become Catholic after having been raised in the Christian faith.
How do I inquire about becoming a Catholic?
After praying about your interest in Catholicism and perhaps having spoken to a Catholic friend or confidante, the best thing to do is to call your local Catholic parish and ask to speak to someone who can offer you more information. It may be the parish priest or pastoral staff person who will invite you to arrange for a visit to outline the next step on your journey of faith.