How do I become Catholic?
What does RCIA stand for?
RCIA stands for “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”.
What is RCIA?
RCIA is the process by which adults can enter the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion. Those who wish to become Catholic are received into the Church every year at the the Easter Vigil Mass. While differing in name and precise execution, this process is one of the oldest in the Church.
Who can register and/or participate?
Anyone over the age of 18 is more than welcome to participate in RCIA classes and activities. No previous knowledge or experience of Christianity is necessary.
Do I have to register to come to classes?
No, you do not have to register to attend RCIA. Walk-ins are always welcome. However, if you are seriously considering becoming Catholic, you should register so that we have the appropriate paperwork on file for you.
What is a normal RCIA class like?
Typical Monday night classes last between an hour to an hour and a half. Classes are almost always taught by one of our priests, addressing a particular topic about the Catholic faith. Refreshments are served before each talk for those who have to come straight from work.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
St. Mary’s will provide you with all the necessary reading materials we will use for this program, which you should bring to each class. We also recommend taking notes, so a pen and notepad are always a good idea.
Why do I have to meet with a priest as part of the RCIA process?
It’s important for you to have a spiritual father throughout this process because a priest is in a unique position to counsel and guide you. As Catholics, we put immense trust in our priests because they are representatives of Christ.
Can I bring my kids with me?
We strongly suggest that you don’t bring your kids with you for three major reasons:
- It’s late; each session starts at 7:30pm and can go until 9pm.
- We are going to address some topics that are more appropriate for your kids to learn about from you directly. The priest needs the freedom to speak bluntly, and the presence of a child can prevent him from doing so prudently.
- RCIA is your time to focus on God. We would like to make sure you are able to give the material the time and attention needed.
What should I do if I miss a class?
Just make sure you’ve read the material for that topic, and come prepared with any questions you may have for the next class. If you missed a topic you were particularly interested in, you can always set up a time to talk to one of the priests about it.
Why does the registration form ask so many personal questions?
Every question on the registration form is designed for St. Mary’s to do one of two things:
- Better understand where you are coming from
- Determine whether you are able to become Catholic
By asking for as much detail as possible early in the process, not only can we help identify any impediments, but we can help you resolve them in a timely manner before Easter. Particular questions about the information we ask for can always be addressed by one of our priests or the Director of Religious Education.
What if I can’t make Monday night classes?
If a situation arises where you are unable to make regular Monday night classes, you should contact one of the priests to see if a different arrangement is possible. When necessary, we are happy to work with you individually to make sure you are being prepared sufficiently to enter the Catholic Church.
What if I register and then decide not to become Catholic?
We will be sad to see you go, but no one can – or should – force you to convert to Catholicism. If you want to come back to RCIA at some point in the future, we will be happy to work with you again. If you have other questions about RCIA, you can contact one of the priests or Melanie Graves at 703-836-4100.