A bit confused about RCIA

Hello all,

I am not Catholic. I’m Jewish, but raised Baptist (yes, quite a mix). I recently made an appointment with a local church to sign up for the upcoming RCIA class. I was met by a church worker (secretary, I suppose) that was anything but welcoming. She subjected me to a series of questions about why I wanted to convert, who I knew that was Catholic, what I expected and what was expected of me - all with periods of awkward silence as she sat across her desk staring. It was almost as if she were trying to decide if I were going to be ‘allowed’ into the program. To say the least, she made me VERY uncomfortable.

Is this normal? Being raised Baptist, I’m used to these types of meetings being ANYTHING but like this (not like I’m being tested, so to speak). I was just assuming that RCIA was something that they’d want many people to sign up for.

Just confused…

I am sorry you had a bad experience, does the parrish have a website most parrishes do and have some info about rcia on there and they have a cordinator who is a member of the layity call the cordinator that way you dont have to deal with the secretary. or see if they have a email and email the secretary . that way you want feel pressured .
God Bless.

While it may be unusual…RCIA is a long commitment and they do want to see where your background is…what you know now, etc…so they can know how to direct the teaching. For example…if they have 10 Baptist converts and one with no faith history…you wouldn’t want them to put ALL their prep into teaching you the bible and who Christ is…right?

Converting to Catholism is much different then doing an altar call.

NOT normal.

NOT right.

BUT, not completely unheard of either. What I mean is that, while the Catholic Church has tons of guidelines about who RCIA is to be conducted, all RCIA is actually carried out by individual parishes, and in many parishes it is conducted entirely or solely by lay people (not ministers, not nuns, not deacons) who may have very little or even no special training in doing RCIA.

I would immediately flee that parish, if I were you.

Ask around to try to learn what parishes in your area are seen as the parishes that really have their act together and which are really faithful to the teachings of the Church. I know, in theory, all parishes should have their act together and should be faithful to the teachings of the Church. But I think everyone in this Forum will agree that this isn’t so.

Don’t let a few callous, rude, or incompetent Catholics dishearten you!

Though I do not have enough information to form an opinion about this situation one way or another, I think one is jumping to conclusions to think that the RCIA director has behaved improperly.

Certainly no offense is intended to the OP, who seems to be sincere, but conversion to the Catholic Church is a serious commitment and, as a poster observed above, it is not an altar call. A Protestant who is used to such a loose and superficially welcoming approach to converts may be put off by the RCIA process. But the fact is you can’t join the Church with a snap of the fingers or a professing Jesus as your savior. Baptism is a holy sacrament, and it would be wrong to confer this sacrament on a convert who is unprepared or who seeks the sacrament for the wrong reasons.

So in a sense, it is not incorrect to see the RCIA process as a “test” of one’s seriousness in conversion. If a potential convert is serious about becoming Catholic, I have no doubt they will find that they will be welcomed with open arms, it just takes time. And if one truly is serious about it, the fact that the process takes time shouldn’t be a problem.

Why someone like her is even interviewing ANY RCIA candidate is beyond me with such a horrible attitude. Oh trust me, if she worked for me she would not even be interviewing birds.


I agree. Perhaps give the parish a little benefit of the doubt, and that the secretary has made a mistake, but, otherwise, go somewhere else. Or, just go somewhere else…

I am not personally involved with RCIA, but I have learned a little from my parish involvement over the years, and my understanding is that there is a period of initial inquiry where enquirers are welcomed and receive information before making any commitment. Thus the parish has erred in interrogating you to this depth on your first contact. You should be able to just indicate your interest, and leave your name and contact details, before committing any further.

The process involves several stages of teaching and commitment, culminating in formal reception, confirmation and first communion at Easter - if you choose to go that far.

From catechumen.org.uk/rcia/

1st Period
Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate
This is also known as the Period of Inquiry. During this period, teaching is given to people who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith. The sessions cover basic information about the Faith and fundamentally communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The church is offering here an invitation to initial conversion. There is no obligation involved in attending these meetings. They are intended to help a person decide whether they want to continue learning about the Faith. Attendees at this stage are known as Inquirers.

I hope the parish worker you spoke to is simply inexperienced, and has made some kind of mistake.

I’m sorry you ran into an uncharitable lady right off the bat. Ironically enough I had a semi similar experience when I was considering joining the baptist church long before Christ brought me home to His Church. But it was the baptist way of condeming everything under the sun that made me run away. I felt like everything I did was wrong or that I would go to hell if I didn’t believe a certain way and act a certain way. Not very Christlike. I would still consider giving RCIA a shot. One stingy old lady doesn’t mean you’ll have an enlightening experience on the RCIA team. I just got confirmed easter 2012 so its all still fresh for me. If you wanna pm me and ask me anything I’d be happy to try and help. My experience was nothing but positive and I pray once you actually meet the RCIA team you’ll feel the same!

Woah, woah, woah. You all want to be charitable, how about we start by being charitable to this church employee.

Let’s examine what happened, from mozzarella’s point of view:

This is a matter of opinion. None of us were there. We do not know the church worker,perhaps mozarella misinterpreted a well-meaning person as unwelcoming.

What is wrong with any of these questions? Nothing!

As for the feeling of awkwardness, this is also a matter of opinion, and none of us were there. What is awkward about asking a prospective Catholic convert why they want to convert, or who they know that is Catholic? Nothing! What is wrong with informing a prospective Catholic “what is expected” of them? Nothing!

That these questions were “awkward” is mozarella’s opinion. I wasn’t there. But in and of themselves, these questions are not just acceptable, but necessary!

In a way, that is precisely what RCIA is about. What “allows” you to become a Catholic is a sincere faith in Christ and a desire to join His True Church.

It is essential for the RCIA program to be able ascertain the sincerity of prospective Catechumens.

Why was mozarella uncomfortable with being asked about his faith in Christ or his Catholic associates? What is uncomfortable about being informed of the Church’s expectations of converts?

I wish mozarella all the best, and hope his journey into the Church is as swift as possible. But the fact is, RCIA is a journey, and it is an arduous one. I fear that if one is “uncomfortable” with the requirements of the process, it may pose a serious stumbling block.

In short, I would advise mozarella to adopt a more charitable and forgiving attitude towards those who cause him discomfort in his RCIA process. Assume the best about them, not the worst. They are just people, you owe them your forgiveness and compassion.

I’m so sorry you didn’t feel very welcome during this meeting. :frowning: Before I signed up for RCIA last fall, I met with the RCIA director who took me into a little room and asked me several questions (why I wanted to convert, etc.) just to make sure that I knew what I was getting into, knew what to expect, if anyone in my family was Catholic already, and so on. We talked for almost an hour and there were a few moments of awkward silence (no staring, thank goodness!) but mostly it was okay. Perhaps the woman you met with just wasn’t a people person, LOL! Again, I sure wish the experience would have been better for you, but please don’t let that deter you from taking RCIA if it’s on your heart!

The answers you’ve gotten above sound mostly right to me. I also wanted to point out the very real possibility that this woman just happens to be an awkward, even brusque lady who’s not an especially smooth operator. Sometimes it happens and there’s nothing intentional or personal about it.

Is this normal? Being raised Baptist, I’m used to these types of meetings being ANYTHING but like this (not like I’m being tested, so to speak). I was just assuming that RCIA was something that they’d want many people to sign up for.

In general, I’d say that Catholic parishes are much worse at things like welcoming than your typical Protestant church might be. You might go to a Catholic church a hundred times without anybody ever making a point to come over and say, “Hi, I noticed you’re new here! Let me tell you about our…” At many Protestant churches, a new person could hardly make it up the front stairs without being singled out and helloed. I’m not sure why this is; perhaps it is that Catholic parishes are on average far larger than the local Protestant churches down the street, and also more likely to have people (Catholics) attend who are not regular members – because they are in town, or parish-shopping, or wanted to go to Mass at a specific time, or just for a change. It can sometimes be hard for people who move and join a new parish to get welcomed and meet people. I always suggest signing up for volunteer activities, joining the choir or a Bible study, and things like that – you aren’t likely to just get collared and dragged into a social group.

On the plus side of things, some non-Catholics who are interested in learning more about the Church and want to attend a Mass as a visitor occasionally worry about getting singled out, pressured and asked questions, or looked at funny because they do not know the responses or what to do. Nope, nothing to worry about! In all likelihood no one will pay special notice to them at all. We get visitors all the time.

At any rate, don’t take it personally. This is a long-standing (and increasingly recognized) weakness of ours – at least in this country; I don’t know about others. Another benefit though, if you’re curious, is that once somebody joins the Church nobody will think of him as “oh, that convert. Yeah, he used to be Jewish; he’s only been with us for a little while. Still stands out, though.” Once you are in, everyone will take you as being just as Catholic as anybody else.

Best of luck and many blessings on your journey.

I can understand the questions as it is a commitment, but she should of been kind and sincere with you. When people treat me bad I think maybe they had a bad day, but maybe it might be best to talk to someone else. I do think she should of kindly given you all info and answered any questions you may of had, and I hope the next person can help you.

Ya…we don’t make you hold up your Catholic id…:D:D:thumbsup:

Sorry but this is not atypical. I’m a convert and had a similar experience.

Catholicism is the greatest religion ever but a certain number of Catholics are cradle catholics who can’t figure out why they still belong. And some of them are plainly psycho. And a fair number of them actually work for the Church. Weird, huh? But once you get used to that idea, you can just avoid them and enjoy being Catholic. That’s what I did.

I advise you to try another parish, one that doesn’t have a guard dog. :smiley:

From what you discribed about you experience, the person you met with had a bad atttitude. Anyone signing up for an RCIA class shouldn’t have to go through such trouble as you did.

The parish should not have a person like this doing convert work–or even “front office” work. She should be unemployed tomorrow with an attitude like that. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior.

If the lady you met was some church secretary instead of one of the RCIA people, it’s very likely that she was angry at the RCIA program for “pushing their job onto her.”

But the point is that she shouldn’t have done it.

And I hope you persevere with looking into the Catholic Church, despite this annoying stuff!

I’m an RCIA kind of Catholic.
I honestly don’t remember how I got into the RCIA class… I’m sure that I called the church and signed up, but I don’t remember that part of it. But I know I was always well treated by everyone I spoke with.
I was lucky to be in an RCIA class that had Priest, a Nun a Deacon and a Lay person as the 4 in charge of it. And we had speakers in and such, it really was a wonderful experience. :slight_smile:
I don’t remember being asked those questions, doesn’t mean I wasn’t, but it does mean that it was done in a manner that wasn’t insulting or I’m sure I’d have run like the dickens from the church and hid in my house and never become Catholic. :slight_smile: I’m not very brave about doing new things alone. :slight_smile:
I hope things will be better for you, and by the way, I’m glad you are interested in RCIA and possibly becoming Catholic. :slight_smile:

You can go to the Philippines, our Priests here may allow you to recieve the sacrament of Baptism without that RCIA. A catechist may teach you briefly with regards to Catechism of the Catholic Church. Some priest only require you to attend mass at least a month.

The OP should be happy that stanczyk is not running the RCIA program. It would probably bear a striking resemblance to middle school. :rolleyes:

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