Do I have to go through RCIA ?

I have done some research on this, but I haven’t found a definitive answer. So, do I have to go through RCIA? I have already studied a lot and have learned a lot about the Catholic faith.


There are very few exceptions to the rule (converts from Russian Orthodox Catholicism can be an exception, for example, when often only a profession of faith is necessary). And personal study about Catholicism cannot substitute for spending time every week with a priest in your RCIA sessions and discussing as a group with fellow candidates and attending mass every week (better yet daily) and going through the process of being prepared for the sacraments.
You may think that you know everything, but you’ll be surprised at what you discover that you do not know, and by what you do learn throughout the RCIA process.
Converting to Roman/Latin Catholicism is a major life changing process. One that you will live with the rest of your life. You cannot learn much about that life from simply studying about Catholicism. You have to live it, and that is what RCIA prepares you for.

What you should probably do is meet with the RCIA director or priest at your local parish and discuss this.

You should speak to your parish priest. He’ll know better than any of us what your particular situation is. That said, why are you reluctant to attend RCIA classes? You may be pleasantly surprised.

Studying and learning “a lot” is only part of the process. Conversion to Catholicism is both a personal relationship with Jesus AND entering a community of believers.

As others have said, you need to speak to the local priest so he can discern what is best for you. Having the priest explaining the RCIA process in depth to you may ease your concern.

But from my experience, dear friend, you better have a better reason for the priest than I’ve already studied a lot.

Talk to your pastor. Everyone’s journey is different. I have fellow converts who were in RCIA for two years, and I myself, joined a class the week before Thanksgiving and entered into the Church the Saturday before Ash Wednesday (3 months).

However long it takes, after the fact, I’m sure you will find it worth the wait.

Don’t be worried about going, even if you don’t think you need to be there! As a Protestant, I’m familiar with basic Christian doctrine, but even I found our last lesson on the trinity helpful. We studied scripture verses that I would never have thought of being pertinent to proving the trinity. We all think we know the “basics”, but it’s always great to deepen our understanding.

Go to RCIA; consider it an exercise in patience and humility when you already understand the topic, and be open to receiving new information! Maybe you already know a lot, but practice makes perfect, right? If nothing else, RCIA will help cement what you already learned, and you will probably make new friends along the way!

I’m not the one to tell you what you have to do, or don’t have to do.

But I am the one to tell you that my RCIA experiene was wonderful. I’m a 42 year old man, retired military, and went through the RCIA last year while I was concurrently pursuing a professional graduate degree…it was quite the year for me!!!. It took a lot of time, but the spiritual awakening I experienced was, in one word, amazing.

I hope you do go through RCIA, and I hope you have an equally amazing experience.

Are you involved with a local parish ? In mine there is a formal set of meetings each year for you to come and ask these questions, followed by a period of inquiry and then RCIA. Naturally you can also speak to a priest about these questions anytime. Just call or stop by the office and to setup some time. If you don’t get in immediately but get scheduled a couple weeks out don’t fret or read anything into it. They are busy people.

Baptized Christians can be brought into communion sooner than easter. In theory baptized Christians of other denominations are called candidates with one track an nonbaptised are catechumens with another track. Sometimes the baptized are told to wait and go through RCIA based on the custom of the local parish, which can be for any number of reasons including staffing levels at the parish.

For example in my case. It took me four years to be able to join because of the fact it would have caused an irreparable rift in the home and the priest told me explicitly not to join if that was what would come of it. Last year when it looked like I was going to be able to join I was offered the option of being brought into communion sooner. But it didn’t work out. This year I am moving forward, and my whole family is joining with me and the priest told me to go through RCIA. He didn’t mention a shorter track option even though last year he brought up bringing me in sooner. I did not ask about other options, I’m happy to do whatever they want me to do.

At the end of the day what we on this forum think is not important but what your local priest thinks is and there is variance from parish to parish. Do what they ask. They are very busy and sometimes just going with the flow and sending you through RCIA makes their lives easier. Be understanding.

Talk to your parish priest…and follow what he says. Even though you may know a lot already…going through RCIA, the usual process…is a way of showing our humility, patience and obedience…as we enter the Church…an opportunity to grow more. God may have something planned for you in RCIA…you may meet someone who needs help…and you may the person to assist.

For as the Bible says…in 1sam15…22 But Samuel replied:

“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

In GENERAL, you would be sent through the RCIA program at your local parish, but essentially you just need the approval of the pastor to be received into the Church; whether through RCIA or not. I first actually did inquiry about being received into the Church last December (just after Christmas 2011), and I met with our parochial vicar, and we decided to meet once/twice-ish a month to see where I was at in my decision (my reasons for not becoming Catholic at that point were familial concerns, nothing about doctrine. We had planned to wait on graduating from high school before I did it, so we could avoid my grandma “blaming” mom for “not doing enough to keep me from heresy”). The next meeting (January 2012), I had my first Confession (and we decided to do it on March 1 instead). For the next few weeks, we kept meeting, and I (special circumstances) was allowed to go to Confession at the regular time. There were some issues with the Pastor and the Church board (not having the RCIA experience, I wasn’t really connected to a whole lot of people in the parish), so after we agreed I go to the youth group for the last few months of high school, I was approved for reception at the Easter Vigil.

Long story short, regularly in the US: RCIA, but each case is different.

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