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The RCIA Coordinator is the person to contact if you find yourself in any of these situations, and want to find out what to do.
RCIA Coordinator: Emily Besl firstname.lastname@example.org or 513 688-3143.
The Catholic Church has different rituals and preparation for these different situations. Here is some general information about what the Church intends for each, but please contact the Coordinator to talk about your own individual circumstances.
For the Catholic Church, baptism is the beginning of Christian life. Baptism makes you a part of Christ, and a part of the Church. It is a sacrament of faith. While babies and young children are baptized in the faith of the Church professed by their parents, the case is different for adults and older children. Adults and older children are baptized according to their own personal faith. This faith in God is developed over time in a process of formation called the catechumenate.
While a catechumen, the new believer is gradually introduced to Christian beliefs and practices, to Christian worship and community. Step by step, they embrace these and begin to live as a Christian. A sponsor offers guidance and encouragement, as the whole parish supports the new person with prayer and example. Weekly sessions for reflection, prayer, and conversation (usually on Sunday mornings after 9:30 Mass for adults) foster growth in faith and the new person’s relationship with Christ and the Church.
Recognizing that faith and conversion grow gradually, the catechumenate is marked by the celebration of several ritual steps as the new believer’s faith deepens, culminating in the sacraments of initiation. Each year at the Easter Vigil, catechumens who are ready are initiated into Christ through Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. The weeks following Easter offer the newly baptized a time to savor their experience of dying and rising with Christ in baptism and of belonging to the Church as full members of the Body of Christ.
The process of baptism for an older child (over age 7) or a teen is very similar to the process for adults. Specifics about when meetings are held depend on the child’s age, and on the other children involved at a given time.
The length of time for the catechumenate varies, depending on the person. You can start whenever you are ready. There is no waiting for an official start date. The way to begin is with a phone call or email to the RCIA Coordinator for an initial conversation.
Christians baptized in other denominations who wish to become members of the Catholic Church celebrate the Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church. This is a new ritual in the Catholic Church, added in the late 20th century after Vatican Council II (1962-65). The Rite of Reception may be celebrated on any Sunday, when the person is ready.
The Catholic Church recognizes the baptism of other churches or Christian communities. A Christian does not get baptized again when they become a Catholic. Their new life as a Catholic builds upon the baptism they already have, and the Christian life they already live.
That is why this simple rite begins with the baptized Christian joining the community at Mass in reciting the Nicene Creed, as we do every Sunday. The Nicene Creed is based on the questions posed at baptism, professing faith in God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit. In the Rite of Reception into Full Communion, reciting the Creed together even before the person becomes Catholic is an affirmation of the common Christian beliefs and baptism that we already share.
Following the Creed, the candidate for full communion makes a statement professing faith in what the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God. With this statement, the person becomes a Catholic.
The candidate then receives the strengthening grace of the Holy Spirit with the sacrament of confirmation, accompanied by their sponsor. Finally, he or she becomes one with the Catholic Church by receiving communion – the sign of the Church’s unity.
Each candidate for full communion received a spiritual and doctrinal preparation according to their own needs, depending on their background as a Christian and their experience belonging to a church. This lasts some weeks or months until the person is ready, often with weekly meetings on Sunday mornings.
CATHOLICS COMPLETING INITIATION
What if you were baptized in the Catholic Church as a child, but didn’t do first communion or confirmation? Now, as an adult, you wish to receive these sacraments. The Church would say you wish to “complete your Christian initiation.” Christian initiation begins with baptism, and is completed by the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist.
Catholics may complete their initiation with confirmation and eucharist at the annual Easter Vigil, or they may do so at a Sunday Mass during the year.
Preparation may be similar to the catechumenate (a gradual training in becoming a Christian), if the person has received little or no Christian formation. If appropriate, the person may celebrate ritual steps marking their progress as they deepen their faith in Christ. Or, perhaps the person has lived a life of faith and prayer for many years as a Catholic, and requires a less extensive preparation for the sacraments. Like any sacrament for adults, the length of time for preparing depends on the individual.
Catholics who are completing their Christian initiation participate in reflection on Scripture, Catholic beliefs, and their personal faith, on Sunday mornings, after the 9:30 Mass, from about 10:30-12:00.
Children over the age of seven or so are initiated into the Catholic Church in a way similar to adults. They participate in a catechumenate and are gradually led into the Church’s life of faith, worship, and service. As they progress in faith, they celebrate ritual steps to mark their growth. When they are ready, they receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist in the midst of the Church community at the Easter Vigil.
To guide them along the way of faith, they have a sponsor or godparent who assists and accompanies them. The whole parish prays for them and provides an example of what it means to follow Jesus.
Like adults, older children are baptized according to their personal faith, not the faith of their parents. The catechumenate is all about fostering and developing that faith within the parish community, so that the child can become a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ, within the Catholic community of believers.
How does a child baptized in another Christian denomination become a Catholic? That depends on the child’s age. For a young child under the age of 7, the parents make a statement to the pastor that they intend to raise the child as a Catholic. This is recorded at the parish, and the child is Catholic. There is no ritual or ceremony needed.
A child over age 7 would celebrate the Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church, like an adult. After a preparation suitable for the child’s age and experience, the child would make a profession of faith, and receive the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist.