Seek and Learn

Published on Oct 21st, 2013 by Austin Keith | 0

Becoming Catholic

Interested in learning more about the Catholic faith?  
Not sure where to begin?  
Here is a quick and easy overview of the process of becoming Catholic
God always invites people into a deeper relationship – sometimes in ordinary ways and sometimes in extraordinary ways.  You may be experiencing the first urge to know about the Catholic faith or you may have been reflecting on this for some time.  Regardless of what has brought you to this page, it is our sincere hope that you take the time to learn more about the Christian initiation process of becoming a Catholic. It is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or Rito de Iniciacion Cristiana para Adultos.
A Look at the Christian Initiation Process
In the earliest days of the Christian Church, those who desired to be followers of Jesus engaged in a lengthy period of preparation and instruction that would eventually lead to their baptism. This period lasted as long as three years wherein these “catechumens” were formed in the way of discipleship. The term “catechumen” means one who is a learner. Through this process of preparation, these early catechumens became immersed in the teachings of Jesus and in the community of faith. This period of immersion ended with the reception of the sacraments of initiation:  baptism, confirmation and holy Communion.
In recent years, the Catholic Church has returned to this earlier formation process, now called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).  It is also referred to as a process rather than an educational program as it involves much more than textbook type of formation. This process is at its best when it takes place within an involved and active community of the faithful – the local parish.
The process of RCIA consists of four periods, each with its own focus. Each of the four periods ends with a celebration of a ritual that marks the end of one step and the beginning of the next step.
First Period:  Inquiry or Pre-Catechumenate 
This opening step is a “Come and See” stage wherein the “inquirer” has time to:
      • hear the faith stories of Catholics
      • ask initial questions 
      • learn about the parish
      • foster initial conversion
Celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the order of Catechumens 
and the Rite of Welcoming Baptized Adults
Second Period:  Catechumenate
This step in the process provides time to deepen faith and knowledge of the faith within the Catholic Christian Community through:
      • reflection on the Word of God
      • exploration of the richness of Catholic tradition
      • experiences of prayer and worship
      • introduction to the apostolic life
Celebration of the Rite of Election and of the Call to Continuing Conversion of Candidates 
who are preparing for Confirmation and Eucharist
Third Period:  Purification and Enlightenment
The Elect (unbaptized) and Candidates (baptized) join with the Christian Community during the season of Lent to:
      • experience a Lenten Day of Retreat
      • enter more deeply into prayer and reflection with the community
      • journey with Jesus on his path of suffering and death
      • prepare for the celebration of the sacraments of initiation
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation 
Fourth period:  Post Baptismal Instruction, Mystagogy
This last step in the RCIA lasts a lifetime. Catholics of all ages continue to pursue formation in the faith.  For the ‘neophytes,” the “newly planted” Catholics, several experiences aid in the deepening of their expression of faith:
      • participation in the Eucharist
      • immersion into the missionary spirit of the church
      • appreciation of the Gospel message 
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
If this overview of the process of RCIA seems a bit daunting to you, do not be afraid!  The process is not done alone. Several inquirers will also be with you on the journey and each parish has a team of dedicated people from the parish community to assist you on the journey.
The Catholic Church also gives each inquirer a sponsor who will share the journey with you and become a companion at the weekly sessions as well as at the other special occasions. Of equal importance will be the prayers and support of the entire parish community.
How do I begin this process?
The way to begin this process of learning more about the Catholic Church and perhaps deciding to become a member of the Catholic faith is to connect with a nearby parish community. We provide a list here that contains the names of each of the Roman Catholic Churches in the Diocese of St. Augustine as well as the name and contact information for the person who is directly in charge of the RCIA/RICA there. You should choose a parish close to your home.
You may also contact the diocesan office and speak to Erin McGeever, director of Christian Formation who oversees the process of RCIA in the diocese. You can email her at or call (904) 262-3200, ext. 118. She can direct you to an appropriate parish community.
The Catholic Church welcomes your interest in our faith.  The RCIA has been a great blessing to those who have experienced the process as well as for the parish communities that have fully embraced the process. Many parishioners who have been involved with the RCIA list it as the most beneficial and influential program they have ever experienced.
Informational brochures    English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF)
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Adapted for Children
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is also the norm for the initiation of children of catechetical age (usually age 7). The RCIA process is adapted to meet the special needs of children and youth.  In the Diocese of St. Augustine, the process of RCIA for children is a two-year process.