How does one's first Sacrament of Reconciliation work for already baptized converts from other Christian denominations?



I am currently considering converting to Catholicism from a Protestant denomination. I have been baptized (many years ago as a child) and I was wondering, if I do end up joining the Catholic Church, will I have to confess all my sins specifically (or at least major sins) that I’ve committed after baptism before I can receive any other Sacraments, or can the priest grant me general absolution for all my sins in between baptism and confirmation since I haven’t previously been a part of a “confessing-to-a-priest Church” before, and was therefore not keeping detailed records? As a Protestant I of course believe(d?) that I could be forgiven by simply praying to God to forgive me, and drew no distinction between mortal and venial sins…I don’t know if there’s any possibility of me being able to remember everything that I’ve done that the Church might consider sinful that I did during my youth and teenage years (I’m currently 21 and was baptized around ten years ago). My decision to enter the Roman Catholic Church or not will not be based on the answer to this question, I would just like to know.

Thanks and God bless you,




If your baptism is, indeed, valid (using trinitarian formula and water), then yes, you will have to make a general confession of all mortal sins you can remember having committed from the time of your baptism up to now. It is difficult and it takes a while to examine your conscience for such a confession, but it can be done. At the time you will do this, you can use an examination of conscience, which is a printed formula used to determine your sins. They typically follow the Ten Commandments and ask you questions. You will have to confess all mortal sins you can remember in kind and number. It may seem rather daunting but this is quite necessary. If the number thing seems impossible, you simply do your best, like “once monthly” or something. As long as you do your best in this matter, you are fine.

Do know that people do this all the time. It can be done.


Thank you for the information! :slight_smile:


Keep in mind, too, that you’ll be able to remember the major, or mortal, sins you’ve committed. If someone asked you to think about your health over the years, you wouldn’t be able to remember every paper cut or scraped knee, but you wouldn’t have any trouble remembering the broken leg or the appendectomy. It’s the same idea.


I’m a new convert and wondered about the very same thing you are. I was given a brochure that helped me. I took the brochure and prayed that God would show me sins I needed to confess. It was good and sins DID pop up in my head as I went through each part of the brochure. IF you forget to name all your sins (which after years not really doing this does seem daunting) just confess them at your next confession. (I have had to do this)

Blessings on your faith journey, (for me it took 3 years)



Just butting in, since Matt may or may not be aware that “general absolution” has a particular and specific meaning in a Catholic context, and his use of the term (inadvertent as it might have been) was the source of Trad’s “no”.

General absolution means absolution outside of the sacrament of reconciliation (i.e., confession). This isn’t a possibility in the case Matt raises. However, a general confession, in which the priest’s absolution would contain the phrase “for these and all your sins,I absolve you…” is possible. Just let the priest know your situation when you walk into the confessional. Better yet, talk to the parish priest where you’ll be confirmed. Although there won’t be the requirement that you remember every sin, you’ll be expected to confess the ones you recall, as others have mentioned…


If I may join in, I had this thought, too. It would seem daunting to anyone, and yes. I’ll certainly remember the ‘broken legs’ more so than the ‘paper cuts.’ But I am also an anxious, nervous person (because of someone else’s inappropriate behavior), and may not remember for that reason as well as the fact that I have been on the planet for over half a century now and wanting to convert. Oh, that just looks nasty in print. I am not a kid anymore! :frowning: I trust there is hope for me…


Although I am not Catholic (at least not yet), I have grown up in Christianity and allow me to assure you: For God all things are possible (Matt. 19:26) and there is always hope when you turn to Him!

It is written:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

So YES, do trust that there is hope for you. After seeing the answers I have seen here I feel confident that you, or I, or anyone else can find a way to be sacramentally absolved of our sins in the Catholic Church, regardless of how old we are or how long it has been since we were baptized.


I am in the same boat! I can only hope that I will be privileged to join the RCC this Easter, and will being doing the same. Start thinking now, its what I am doing! even make a list, it seems strange but this is a very serious matter that is worth the time and effort. The sacrament of reconciliation is there for a reason and should be taken seriously as such.


When I chose to convert, I contacted my local Catholic Church and got in touch with the leader of the RCIA group.
If you (and hopefully you will) chose to join the Catholic Church, you’ll most likely go through the RCIA program where you’ll learn all kinds of great things not taught in Protestant churchs or anywhere else. Your leader and or sponsor will guide you through the entire process, from beginning to end and you’ll be all set and well prepared to continue your journey.


I was in your same position last year. I completely understand your apprehension. Unfortunately, there is no general absolution for the validly baptized entering into the Faith.

Don’t worry about it. In RCIA the topic of Confession was covered thoroughly. For the ones being baptized for the first time, there was no confession until after they were completely brought into the church. You probably have had to provide documentation to prove that your baptism was a valid one this year when you made application to join the Church. If it was, and you decide that you want to continue and receive all the other sacraments, and are free to do so, then you will go to confession before Easter Vigil and your first communion and confirmation. We did it after our final interviews during Holy Week. Those of us who had decided to enter the Church were coached and given handouts to help us. All of us met ahead of time to review everything and then we all continued down to the Church. Even the Catacumens were required to come along and pray for the rest of us. So we had plenty of moral support!

You basically just follow the 10 Commandments. There is also plenty of literature with sample questions you can ask yourself that you can use as a guide. Since I was confessing a lifetime of sin and not just 10 years, :o there was general teasing before my first time. :smiley: :blush: But I had taken time to recollect and review my whole life (which was a good idea ahead of time) and I wrote down methodically everything. When I got into the confessional I explained to the priest that it was my first time, and that I needed his help. So…to make a LONG story short :smiley: I survived! Now I go once every 3-4 weeks. Once you get used to it, it’s no sweat. PS after my first confession, I shredded the list I had taken into the confessional. (A truly great moment.)


In my RCIA group, those already baptized took the time to make a list of their sins to be confessed so as to hopefully not forget anything important. They also met with father about a week before their scheduled confession so they could ask any specific questions regarding what to confess or to get any additional guidance they might need.

If you follow the guide for making a good confession (especially the section on examination of conscience ) you are not likely to miss any major sins since it covers them so well, with detailed questions.


Just read this. :blush: :bigyikes:. And there are some things I still wouldn’t know how to answer. I am painfully over analytical… Thank you for the info…
Daunting is an understatement. I am reeling as to what to do… :eek: :frighten:


Confess everything, the Priest has heard it all before. When I converted (Easter 2010!) I had to received Reconciliation as I was already baptised and there was some major sins I had to confess to that I was scared I would be judged for because my past isn’t exactly nice- to my surprise once I had finished listing everything all the Priest asked was “is that all?” in a tone that said he didn’t mind what I said as long as I was making a sincere confession…my first confession took 15 minutes in all with a fairly heavy penance (reading+ a decade of the Rosary) but was granted absolution.

and Welcome Home!

ahh and the list idea- it is a very good idea. I had one that was one and a half sheets of A4 long, the Priest even let me put it on the fire before the Easter Vigil so it would burn away. Wasn’t the first time I shed unmanly tears that night!


Take a deep breath and relax. You’re going to have time to prepare and people to help you. And more than that, you will have the help of the Holy Spirit.

What seems like a huge mountain to get over now will simply be a matter of taking one step at a time. Later, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come.


Believe it or not, I would not fear being judged; and in a way, I’d like to think, that I too will hear, “is that all?” (Not unlike an episode of Everybody loves Raymond. Once the priest knew that Ray was Frank’s son, he cut off Ray’s words quickly by saying, “That man is your father?? You’re absolved!!! Go In Peace!!”) I fear not remembering to do all that I’d need to do to join, to stay, to list, to be granted absolution, to do penance and pretty much everything. In part due to just who I am and in greater part to overwhelming PTSD and anxieties brought on through no fault of my own. Life is daunting for me as it is. And it no doubt always will be. I have a well intentioned heart and still I am reeling with this…

Thank you for your kind help and words…


*That’s *a brilliant idea. I just have this inkling that the priest in question - my only local option - will not be as - I can’t finish that; can’t find the word. I have already met him for attending Mass without partaking. He was offputting to say the least. Another reason to reel.


Welcome Home. I went to confession since I had been baptized as a Protestant when I was a child. It wasn’t easy, but I went to a priest where there was a confessional so I didn’t have to be face to face for my first confession. That helped me a lot. I felt GREAT afterwards…such a burden lifted to hear those words of absolution.

Also, there has not been a day that has gone by since my conversion in 2008 that I have not thanked God for bringing me to His Church.

Blessings, and you’ll be in my prayers as you continue your journey to Easter Vigil (that goes for the others above who are on their conversion journey also the Church).


I converted back in 1987. I remember my first Confession rather vividly because I was facing it with complete dread. I remember asking the wise priest what I had to confess. He replied “Everything from your baptism on forward.” I choked because I had led, let’s say for decorum’s sake, a colorful life before my conversion. Ever ready with a quip, I replied “Well, Father, I hope you brought a box lunch because you are going to be here a while.”

I confessed as best as I could and was amazed at what I could remember. Father give me an “Our Father” as part of my penance, then he said “I am going to apply the most difficult penance I know: forgive yourself because God has forgiven you.”

With that stroke, Father gave me such a blessing and a real challenge to my spiritual growth. He is with the Lord now, may God rest his soul.



I was quite surprised at just how easy it was, once I got there. I came from a church where we did have confession, it wasn’t emphasized at all and I always made to feel very very guilty about what I’d confessed afterwards.

My pastor knew about some of my hangups and I’m sure he was praying about them. Sometime in Advent, I phoned him and said I was ready, could I come in. He walked me through it and probably will need to the first few times.

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