Converting to Eastern rite Catholic from Atheism


I was raised in a Christian household, but I was never baptized, and was an atheist for several years. I made the decision about a year and a half ago to become Catholic, after several months of research, study, and feeling a “calling” to Christianity. Through my discernment (and in working with my pastor) I feel like the Byzantine rite is where I’m being led. However, I live in a state where the only rite of Catholicism we have here is the Latin rite. My understanding, as my pastor has warned me, is that there is a long process to formally change from one rite to another.

Since I am not yet baptized, and am on track to be received into the Catholic Church this Easter, is there any way, barring waiting until I have frequent access to a Byzantine rite parish to convert, that I may become Eastern Catholic? I don’t want to deny myself the sacraments, but nor do I want to go through the process to change rites when I know now that I want to become an Eastern Catholic.


But can a Latin rite Catholic not receive sacraments in an Easter rite church anyway? So if in the future you live reasonably close to an Eastern rite church you can just make that your parish?


I am canonically Latin but have been a member of a Byzantine parish for years. Even though I have “gone native” so to speak I still have not switched (although I plan to). Switching rites is not that long or hard of a process. I e never known anyone that was denied. I’m sure it may happen occasionally when people switch for the wrong reasons. Become Catholic and when you are in a situation to attend a Byzantine parish do so.

Are there any Eastern Orthodox parishes where you live? If so have you visited them? If there are you should attend Vespers regularly.



To echo what @ziapueblo has said, it isn’t difficult to switch your canonical enrollment (you change churches not rites). Now, that being said, usually a period of about a year is required in which you would be attending an Eastern parish and participating in the full liturgical cycle they have there. If I may ask, what is it about the East that is drawing you in? Have you gone to Divine liturgy and/or vespers yet? What area are you living in (you can PM me if you want)? some small parishes and missions don’t have much (if any) of an online presence and people usually find out about them from word of mouth. My mission parish took forever to get off the ground…we are STILL not listed on our Eparchy’s website…after 7 years!


Yes, I have attended Divine Liturgy and Vespers. I’ve attended at both an Orthodox parish near my hometown and I’ve attended a Divine Liturgy at Greek Melkite parish and a Byzantine (Ruthenian) parish in another state (it’s a four to five hour drive from where I live and I was in the area). It’s hard for me to describe what exactly attracts me to the Byzantine rite. I love the history and the tradition, the beauty of the Liturgy, and I’ve found, by attending Divine Liturgy and privately doing eastern forms of prayer, that eastern spirituality is very efficacious for me.


Welcome! We missed you!

I love the Eastern Rite. If you become Catholic, you can receive in the Eastern rite without having to formally change over. My husband was baptized as a RC and he attended the Eastern rite with me for 30 years.

I especially love vespers. I got so much catechism from attending vespers on Saturday. It really did a lot to grow my faith. I wish the same for you!


Eastern Canon Law CCEO

Canon 30 Anyone to be baptized who has completed the fourteenth year of age can freely select any Church sui iuris in which he or she then is enrolled by virtue of baptism received in that same Church, with due regard for particular law established by the Apostolic See.

You may be able to find a parish in a neighboring state for baptism in a Byzantine church. You would receive baptism, chrismation, and communion at the same celebration. See Find A Parish:

You can call the chancery of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh about how to go about this.


There’s an idea. I could ask the priest of one of the two Eastern parishes in Columbus I visit. They might be okay with that. I’d also have to get in touch with my current pastor, and if both signed off on it work out logistics with family attending and such. Thank You!


Actually if you are baptized in the Roman Catholic Church/Western Rite and you want to transfer it is NOT just a matter of changing where you attend Mass as no matter where you go you are still obligated to follow the requirements of the Roman Rite, but rather if you want to become a Byzantine Catholic after already being a Roman Rite Catholic then you would need to attend Mass in the Byzantine Catholic tradition for two years and then send a letter/email to the Byzantine pastor requesting transfer and after (hopefully) all the approvals come in (pastor, Byzantine Bishop, Roman Rite Bishop, and the Pope via the Pope’s Ambassador to their country) only then does the pastor receive the documents that the one changing rites must sign in the presence of two witnesses. I’m speaking from experience as I grew up in the Roman Rite and transferred to the Maronite Rite this year!


All the people who transferred in my parish (myself included) never signed anything in front of witnesses. I do, however have the paperwork from both the Roman and Ukrainian bishops ; the former releasing me from his authority and the latter taking me under his authority. On the Roman side they went ahead and notified our old parishes where we were baptized. So if anyone questions it in the future (mainly an issue with our kids) I do have the paperwork .


I think Herculees is referring to CCEO:

Canon 36
The transfer to another Church sui iuris takes effect at the moment a declaration is made before the local hierarch or the proper pastor of the same Church or a priest delegated by either of them and two witnesses, unless the rescript of the Apostolic See provides otherwise.


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