Is there a way to complete RCIA via long-distance learning?

I have a 15 yr old friend who wants to be confirmed but hasn’t received his 1st Communion or the Sacrament of Reconciliation yet. He is baptized Catholic but is currently in a Presbyterian military boarding school and is not allowed to leave campus for CCD classes. The parish priest or lay person is also not allowed to come on campus to complete the training. He is allowed home every 35-40 days for the weekend and also is home for summer and for a couple of weeks around Christmas and Easter. Consequently, he misses all of the local area scheduled RCIA and CCD classes. I was wondering if he could complete the training via computer during his breaks from school. Does anyone know if this might be possible anywhere in the English speaking Catholic world? Sure would appreciate any information or “outside the box” thinking on this situation. Thanks and God Bless.

i haven’t heard of any online RCIA or CCD classes

but this sounds like a good idea and i’ll inform my parish priest about it :thumbsup:

It is possible to complete the doctrinal portion of RCIA preparation on-line or distance learning, with a pastor and parish who will work with you, but not of course the rites and sacraments, which are the heart of RCIA. But that is not your question. You are asking about confirmation and first communion for a Catholic youth who is of the normal age for that sacrament. His parents should be making that arrangement, with the cooperation of their own pastor. If the school forbids its students to practice their own religions that is a huge red flag. My guess is that there is a lot more to this story.

Yes, unfortunately, there is more to this story. His mother has basically relinquished the rearing of this boy to his grandfather. The boy, who had previously been on the path to serious trouble, was sent by his grandfather to this school and has made miraculous improvements over the past two years due to the discipline and regimen that this school provides. The tradeoff is total lack of freedom , which includes his choice of religious training. The boy is interested in learning more about his faith and is independently reading the Catechism. However, his own parish priest, in the parish of his grandfather, has no ability to offer special programs to fit the time needs of this boy. He has asked at his home parish, the neighboring parish, and the archdiocese office of religious education. The only answer they all give is that he needs to wait until he’s out of the school and take RCIA then. Being 18 or 19 at that time and with the accompanying freedom, I’m afraid taking RCIA will be far down on the list of things to do. I was very much hoping for a better alternative. How do I access the online RCIA preparation in order to tell his parish priest about it?

I also wonder if the boy is attending Mass on Sundays? That would be an important expectation for any young person receiving the sacraments (although we all know that even in our own religious ed programs many kids don’t attend Mass on Sunday, but at least they have the opportunity)

He goes to mass when he’s home one weekend a month and during school holidays.

since others have asked me, no I am not aware at this time of a site which is specifically set up for distance learning for sacramental preparation and RCIA, which by its very nature is intended to take place within the parish community.

the closest thing I know of, and the place I steer people who want to study their faith on their own, is of course here at CA for apologetics, but for teachings on the faith in a more systematic way. their catechism 101 gives links on specific topics, and better yet, subscribe to the newsletter for a regular catechism lesson, and expanded Q&A on a different topic each day.

4marks which is the new form of is now more for social networking and does not seem to have the old on-line learning feature. that program required the parish to pay and subscribe and enroll members, but had a testing, reporting and evaluation feature. If anyone knows of something similar let me know. We subscribe for one year for the benefit of two adult candidates, but they never followed through so I did not continue the service.

Unless a person is very highly motivated, in this as in any other area, on-line learning is not very effective, and in any case is only one component of sacramental preparation.

I don’t understand why everyone is pushing this young man towards RCIA. He is a CATHOLIC. RCIA is for NON-Catholics.

This is a CATHOLIC asking to complete his sacraments of initiation.

The priest should be able to do this without delay. A simple interview and discussion regarding his knowledge of the faith while he is home on break should suffice to assure the priest of his readiness. The priest can ask the bishop for faculties to confirm. The priest can then administer the sacraments to this boy before he returns to school.

**I’m not getting the whole RCIA requirement. **

That goes against everything laid out in the RCIA rite and guidelines books. Even baptized non-Catholics are not to be treated the same way as catechumens and can be received into the Church without delay if they are catechized and ready.

Perhaps the boy needs to write to his bishop (in his home diocese) and ask for the sacraments. A Catholic asking for the sacraments should not be denied!

This is just CRAZY.

not entirely. RCIA is for those who wish to learn about the faith. there are many Catholics who are not properly Catechized and would benefit from the formal education in the faith that the RCIA offers. being 18, he’s already over age for PREP classes which are offered to kids from grade 1-12. PREP is mandatory before receiving sacraments for the first time. if he hasn’t been confirmed and hasn’t attended PREP, then the RCIA is the way to go. unless he has access to a parish that conducts seminars about the sacrament

a good priest would want the person receiving a sacrament to understand why he’s receiving it, and what his duties and obligations are. the sad truth is a lot of people receive the sacrament of confirmation without even understanding what it is about

Nope. That is not the case.

Many parishes put Catholics in need of sacraments in RCIA, but that is NOT what RCIA is for and it is not where Catholics in need of sacraments should be placed.

Catholics in need of sacraments should be assisted through an entirely different means.

He is not 18. He is 15. I don’t know what PREP is, but it is NOT mandatory. It may be the way in which *your *parish prepares for the sacraments, but it is not universal.

Read the canons, the pastor should be assured that they are ready to receive the sacraments. There is no particular way in which this preparation must be completed. The pastor has great discretion.

This young man has been studying the catechism and can easily meet with the pastor and ensure he is prepared for the completion of his sacraments.

Yes, I stated that he needed to meet with the priest to assess his readiness. The priest can meet with him and determine his readiness for the sacraments. Reception of the sacraments should not be delayed if he is prepared to receive them.

myself and several other posters have stated repeatedly that he does not belong in RCIA. The priest has already been contacted and he can’t do anything because the child is a minor and the mother has not given permission. The boy and his grandfather are well advised to stay in contact with the priest so that the sacraments can be administered as soon as he is an adult, or the custodial parent consents. In the meanwhile he can study with books or on line, but that by itself is not sacramental preparation. And no, according to OP the young man has not had any formal study of the faith or Catholic formation, so yes he does need it but there is more than one way to go about it.

just opened my Ignatius press catalog to get details on the NT study bible, and find that the entire Faith and Life series catechism course for grades 1-8 is on line, with all the benefits of online learning and extra features. the 7th & 8th grade texts especially are the doctrinal preparatin for Confirmation in Catholic schools that use the texts, and for dioceses that confirm in 8th grade, and work well also for early high school.
is the link

no it is not “RCIA on line” but it is excellent catechesis for a high school student who is starting from the beginning and can only study on-line for now

not that i would totally disagree with that. but again, RCIA is not for catechumens only.

PREP = parish religious education program
children who are to receive sacraments for the first time should be part of the PREP. i don’t know about other parishes, but in our parish, we won’t allow kids to join first confession or first communion or confirmation if they haven’t attended PREP

and you are correct. and that is why there is RCIA for adults, and PREP for those in school. that would be sufficient to prepare them

this will be at the discretion of the priest. some priests would be strict with the requirements (i know my parish priest would be this way). some would be satisfied with a little question and answer to see if the person is ready to receive the sacrament (assuming the person didn’t go through any formal instruction)

I am the new President and CEO of And I would like to invite the original poster to contact me personally through the support option on We could easily provide lessons for you.

We are no longer affiliated with 4marks and are no longer into social networking. Our new program is 100% catechetical material including and especially RCIA preparation material.

I would recommend our Adult Package Program for you. It contains information and in-depth lessons on The Old Testament, New Testament, Life of Christ (aka Rosary Mysteries), Ten Commandments, Sacraments, and the Mass.

It is a great collection of material offered at a very affordable price. It is the first item on the top of this page: offers a unique program that provides adults with the necessary information to become a Catholic. The knowledge taught in these programs work well as a stand-alone program as well as a textbook for direct usage by the parish.

God bless! I hope to hear from you.

The young man in question needs to talk to a priest. The problem is that he’s 15. Without his parent(s) approval most priests aren’t going to proceed. Once he’s 18 he can pursue this on his own. His situation has too many details and particulars to be able to give a blanket answer. The first step is to contact a priest he can meet with and go from there.

While an online RCIA course is a great idea (I’m an IT guy, I’m all for technology), wouldn’t the diocese need to approve any kind of training material to receive recognition within a diocese? A person may gain knowledge from such a site but the diocese and/or parish would still ask one to attend RCIA from a diocese sanctioned instructor

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