Each year thousands of adults choose to become Catholics. They come from different backgrounds for different reasons:
- Some are already Christians from other traditions attracted by the teaching of the Catholic Church and by the example of individual Catholics they know.
- Some are from another faith or no faith at all who have heard about Jesus, His claim to forgive sin and His promise of eternal life.
- Some are non-Catholics who have been coming regularly to Mass for years with their Catholic relatives. They wish now to become full members of the Church.
- Some have had no previous contact with the Church at all but have this inner calling to discover the truth about the most important questions of life.
- The programme is also for Catholics who missed out on the sacraments as children.
If any of the above situations applies to you, then the RCIA programme is for you.
RCIA : The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Most Catholics enter the Church through baptism as infants and receive the Eucharist and Reconciliation (First Communion and Confession) and Confirmation when young. However, there are many people who become Catholics, or receive the sacraments they have previously missed, later in life. The RCIA programme is the preparation for this.
People thinking about becoming Catholic can feel nervous. This is one of the most important decisions you can make, but you are not alone. Thousands of people across the country are doing the same thing. There will be others at St. Peter’s in a similar situation with the same basic questions. The RCIA programme is an enjoyable, social occasion and the opportunity to make good friends.
Starting in the early autumn, we meet one weekday evening (with breaks) over several months. Each week we look at an aspect of our faith, eg the existence of God, who Jesus really is, what we do at Mass, how being a Catholic affects our daily life. There is plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion.
You are not rushed into making a decision. You are the person who decides at the time right for you. If you decide to proceed, you will normally be welcomed into the Church at the beautiful Easter Vigil service when we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. At that evening service you will be baptised (if you are not a Christian already) and be confirmed and make your First Holy Communion. In doing so, you become a full member of the Catholic Church and will receive a very warm welcome into the parish of St. Peter’s.
Can anyone become a Catholic?
Yes. All that is required is belief in God and the teachings of the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ. This should be borne out in our daily lives, eg by prayer, coming to Mass on Sundays, living moral lives of truth and charity. If this isn’t entirely the case currently, then the RCIA programme is the opportunity to investigate further. All we ask is a willingness to explore in good faith and openness to the call of Jesus to become more faithfully His disciple. There are lots of misunderstandings about what the Catholic Church actually believes and why.
This is your chance to find out for yourself.
I was brought up as a Christian in another denomination. Do I have to reject my past life?
No – if it isn’t contrary to our faith and morals. God has brought you to this point where you are considering becoming a Catholic. We rejoice in the goodness and truth you have experienced elsewhere. We willingly admit that elements of the truth are found amongst other Christians, but the fullness of truth is found in the Catholic Church. You are simply asked to state your belief in the teaching of Jesus and His Church.
What do I do next?
Contact the parish priest. You will be sent details of the next RCIA programme and made very welcome when the sessions begin.
“May they all be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you… so that the world may believe,” (John 17:21)