Converting To Catholicism

I had some questions regarding converting to the Catholic faith. Some background information about myself. I was baptized into another Christian church. I have already spoken to an RCIA director at my local Parish and plan on attending RCIA beginning in September.

The following is what I was looking at regarding to the process of becoming Catholic. If your outside of the United States then I understand the process may differ. I also understand that each Diocese may slightly differ.

“Persons baptized into another Christian church and now seeking full communion with the Catholic Church are also welcomed to participate along with catechumens in the RCIA in the process of learning about the Catholic faith and being formed in that faith. They bring to the process of preparation their prior experience of Christian life and prayer. For a baptized Christian, reception into full communion with the Catholic Church involves reception of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation and then a Profession of Faith followed by the celebration of Confirmation and the Eucharist.”

So from what I can tell the process for a Christian who is already baptized is:

  1. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
  2. Profession of Faith
  3. Confirmation
  4. Eucharist

RCIA is still encouraged.

Does this sound correct?

It will depend upon which Latin Catholic diocese you are in, or if you join one of the Eastern Catholic Churches (there are 23 that exist in full communion) which eparchy. They have different programs for converts. I am a Byzantine Catholic and we have converts occasionally. Some convert from Presbyterian so must get approval to switch from the Latin Catholic Church to the Byzantine Catholic Church. There is a class series (8 to 10 classes) given by the pastor, including some reading (usually one book) and discussion to and then think about it and decide.

The parish I am going to join is a part of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte which follow the Roman Rite. This is separate than the Byzantine Catholic Church.

Yes. Private instruction is extremely unusual nowadays, due to the shortage of priests.

There is a process in the Rite designed for baptized non-Catholic Christians, and there is also a process for persons who were baptized Catholic but did not receive Confirmation or First Holy Communion during childhood.

First of all - let me extend to you my warmest encouragement and welcome!!!
You are mostly correct about what you wrote concerning the process of becoming a Catholic, except, perhaps, for the last part that seem to imply that the RCIA is only encouraged. I don’t know what the alternative to the RCIA would be, but I think it is some sort of one on one instruction if the particular parish does not offer RCIA. Going through it is the best way to become a member. So, if your local parish offers it, it is definitely the way to go.:thumbsup:

Well, I completed my RCIA class in April 2012. I had been baptized in a non-Catholic church. A coworker friend told me that I cannot receive communion until I am baptized as a Catholic. And according to the priest who led the class, this was exactly right.

You left out the part you quoted from the bishops:

"Persons baptized into another Christian church and now seeking full communion with the Catholic Church are also welcomed to participate along with catechumens in the RCIA in the process of **learning about the Catholic faith and being formed in that faith. **

So insert a new number 1 in your list and you’ve got it.

<CAVEAT: The post below refers to WESTERN non-Catholic Christians.>

I’ve said this before and I think I’ll say it again… :stuck_out_tongue:

In many people’s minds, RCIA is about instruction classes. While those instruction classes may be the most time consuming part of RCIA they are not the heart or RCIA. The parts that really matter are the liturgical rites that normally take place inside inside the parish church or the cathedral.

There are rites that are adapted for those who are being received into the Church from other Christian sects and there are those that are designed for the unbaptized.

There are classes that are designed to be of value to the unbaptized which are also likely to be of value to the non-Catholic Christian, to the uninitiated Catholic, and even to a lot of fully initiated Catholics. (Whether or not the classes are actually useful for anyone is a topic for a different thread.)

For years the baptized and the unbaptized were treated much the same. I chalk that up to the fact that the Church has had only a few decades to learn how to run RCIA programs. (It really does take 30-40 years to figure this stuff out.) But today, many parishes are trying to recognize the baptized non-Catholics for who they are as fellow Christians. So parishes are separating the RCIA rites for the baptized from those for the unbaptized or even eliminating RCIA for the unbaptized altogether.

My parish typically does not initiate the baptized at the Easter Vigil unless they have a family member who will be baptized. The candidates for full communion are more commonly brought into the Church at Christmas, Epiphany, Pentecost, or other solemnity. It is generally considered to be of benefit to the parish as a whole if the initiation takes place publicly at a Sunday liturgy. The priest (or bishop if we are so blessed as to have one visiting) will explain that these candidates are already Christians but they wish to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

So in addition to the necessary steps for entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, RCIA is encouraged, not only for the benefit of the initiate but also for those who are already members of the Church (which includes the RCIA team.) But RCIA may not always be the best route for a particular Christian.

This link to may help you.

I did not go through RCIA. From what I understand my journey is very unusual. I was Baptist. I felt the call to the Catholic Church. For about a year I studied everything at I also studied the Catechism. I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me. When I felt the time was right I went to Mass and spoke to the Priest about making an appt to talk to him about joining the Church. He told me he’d give me 5 mins after Mass. That 5 min meeting turned into at least 40. He questioned me about just everything imaginable. He kept smiling and saying I was ready. He had me have 2 people send him references to confirm what I was saying. 15 days later I received the Sacraments. He didn’t feel that I needed to go through RCIA. If we have an RCIA class this year I’m either going to assist or just attend to fill in the blanks in my knowledge.

Welcome Home!!! It’s a wonderful journey.

If you were baptized with water in the trinitarian formula, you should not have been baptized upon entering the Church. You only need to be baptized if you were not already baptized, even if it was in a non-Catholic Christian denomination.

I think that retaining the Easter Vigil for the unbaptized and receiving the baptized at another time is one of the best things we could do to recognize the baptismal status of other Christians.

In the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Cardinal Mahony sent a letter to parishes asking them to keep the Easter Vigil only for the unbaptized. Archbishop Gomez has affirmed that this remains the practice. Many parishes ignore the letter, but I think that those parishes that observe the practice are definitely doing something right.

I have read numerous conversion stories in my own studies and there is a wide range of participation in RCIA programs vs private instruction in the last few decades.

Personally, God reached me through the written word and via the Podcasts offered by Catholic Answers live. Prior to joining RCIA this fall I have had the benefit of exploring many common roadblocks to conversion (papal infallability, the role of Mary, justification, prayer to saints, contraception, etc). Sometimes when I share my studies with friends who are cradle catholics they will even make a comment like “you don’t really believe in all that, do you?” :rolleyes:

Growing up Methodist I gave a year of my time for confirmation classes and I had already had the benefit of years of attending services. While I would certainly love to be home today I will wait patiently for Easter and use this time to continue being formed in the faith, especially learning to live the sacramental life.

Another benefit of RCIA for converts is that it provides a supportive group of people to share the faith with. Most of my family is protestant/non-religious so I can use all the support I can get!:thumbsup:

Welcome Home!!!

My church is very small. My Priest is the Priest for 2 churches. I attended the last class before the Vigil. It was to tell us where we needed to be, when and what we needed to do. There were 4 of us…all former Baptists. Unfortunately, everyone went their separate ways after the Vigil. I’ve only seen one person that I met that night again and that was at a Friday afternoon Mass.


Cardinal Mahony has often gotten a bad rap at this forum. But he’s promoted plenty of good ideas too.

If your baptism was valid, the Church will recognize it. The question is whether or not your baptism used the proper form, matter and intent.

Do you have a copy of Catholicism for Dummies? I highly recommend it. I learn something each time I peruse my copy.

Thank you,

So it seems like the order is this:

  1. Learning about the Catholic faith and being formed in that faith
  2. Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation
  3. Profession of Faith
  4. Confirmation
  5. Eucharist

I am currently working on the first step by doing some suggested reading by the RCIA director and attending the RCIA classes later this year. He suggested reading a book that is about God’s covenants and salvation throughout Biblical history.

A good basic summary of the Catholic faith using the Latin Church theology, that I recommend and have read is: The Faith Explained by Leo J. Trese.

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