Becoming Catholic is one of life’s most profound and joyous experiences. Some are blessed enough to receive this great gift while they are infants, and, over time, they recognize the enormous grace that has been bestowed on them. Others enter the Catholic fold when they are older children or adults. This tract examines the joyful process by which one becomes a Catholic.
A person is brought into full communion with the Catholic Church through reception of the three sacraments of Christian initiation—baptism, confirmation, and the holy Eucharist—but the process by which one becomes a Catholic can take different forms.
A person who is baptized in the Catholic Church becomes a Catholic at that moment. One’s initiation is deepened by Confirmation and the Eucharist, but one becomes a Catholic at baptism. This is true for children who are baptized Catholic (and receive the other two sacraments later) and for adults who are Baptized, Confirmed, and receive the Eucharist at the same time.
Those who have been validly baptized outside the Church become Catholics by making a profession of the Catholic faith and being formally received into the Church. This is normally followed immediately by confirmation and the Eucharist.
Before a person is ready to be received into the Church, whether by baptism or by profession of faith, preparation is necessary. The amount and form of this preparation depends on the individual’s circumstance. The most basic division in the kind of preparation needed is between those who are unbaptized and those who have already become Christian through baptism in another church.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process for adults. RCIA is a process of prayer, reflection, and learning that allows for the continual discernment of God’s will in our lives.
Many people inquire about becoming Catholic for many different reasons. Phase one of the journey starts in the heart of the seeker and continues in a small inquiry group where questions are raised and discussed freely. We call it a process because, like any faith journey, each one’s pace is unique. The general process that the Catholic Church uses to initiate adults is based on the same process that the early Christians used during early centuries of Christianity. Full initiation takes place with the reception of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.