No Vigil for Some, is this right?


Happy Easter! I was at a Saturday Night Vigil last night and saw something that was confusing. First of all we welcomed a dozen people who were baptized by immersion. We have an amazing font and it was great to see so many come into the Church.

I didn’t see any who were already baptized received so I asked why at the reception. The Deacon’s wife said that they “don’t do it that way”. I guess if you’ve already been baptized you don’t go through RCIA. You work with someone until you receive, first reconciliation, Confirmation, and first Communion “when you’re ready”. You aren’t part of the Vigil. I think they need RCIA.

I was baptized as a baby in the Lutheran Church. I converted in 2000. There were a dozen of us who all studied together some baptized, some not. Those who were baptized went through first Confession and those who were being baptized at the Vigil were instructed on Confession for later. We all met the Bishop two weeks before the Vigil and he gives the OK for everyone to be Confirmed at the Vigil Mass. At the vigil Mass we were all there together. They baptized first, then we all were called up and we were confirmed, then we all received first Eucharist together at that time in the Mass. It seems so sad that there are people who came into the church through some “back door” and they aren’t even recognized at all at the Vigil. I mean who would want your Confirmation and First Eucharist to not even be recognized? I think people NEED RCIA.

Is this the “new” norm? I don’t like it. Then the priest had them all gather around the altar, I hate that because I can’t see Jesus. He has the kids do that every week. I felt so sad that we didn’t get to meet those who came in simply because they were already baptized. It’s like they get punished in a way. It was like the converts were 2nd class. I felt sad for them given the welcome we were given at another parish. All other parishes include everyone at various times. Heck we even had two couples have a brief matrimony ceremony at the Vigil. I just felt sad that they were left out.

I don’t really mean this but it would almost make someone want to lie and say they were never baptized so they could be at the Vigil for their first sacraments. Very strange.

Anyone else have this same situation? I just feel sad that the whole group didn’t come in together.



Receiving candidates at the Easter Vigil is an open question. In my archdiocese we were very specifically told the Vigil is for those being baptized ONLY. Many parishes ignore the directive, but that is how we’re supposed to be doing it here.

The RCIA rite says the catechumenate is supposed to last a full liturgical year (though many parishes ignore this directive as well). Candidates, however, don’t have a specific length of time they are supposed to prepare. They can be received into the Church whenever they are ready, however long or short that might be. There’s no point in telling someone he has to wait until April if he’s ready in January.


That’s so sad, it meant so much to us to be there and receive with the others. Wow. Thanks for the information. Our Diocese obviously doesn’t do it that way but the parish I attended last night does do it that way.


Both forms (one for unbaptized and one for previously-baptized) are forms of RCIA. Therefore, yes, the Candidates do go through RCIA.

The Church did not intend that the two RCIA programs should be combined into a single group. This is permitted, but not the ideal situation. It’s a practical solution that many parishes use. Receiving the previously-baptized is actually reserved to the bishop, and pastors can only do this with special permission (delegation) from the bishop.

It’s not “supposed” to be done at the Vigil, but it may be done, with the bishop’s permission.

In practical terms, most US bishops do allow it.


Thanks Fr David–our Bishop does grant this, which is why I was confused. We are introduced to the Bishop at a special gathering if we are in RCIA. He then grants the permission and tells us that we are to be Confirmed at the Vigil. I know our Bishop does have Confirmation at a different time for adults who were never confirmed but those who are converting are brought in with the rest at the Vigil. So I guess this parish is doing it differently and having the adults confirmed at the Bishop’s adult confirmation ( I think it’s in May). I just know it meant a LOT to me and I feel bad that they aren’t a part of the Vigil.


I am a catechist for our parish’s RCIA program, and we switched to “year-round” RCIA a couple years back. Previously, the program ran from fall to Easter for both catechumens and candidates, but now candidates can start at any time and be received whenever they and the pastor and the deacon running the RCIA program agree they are ready. There is still a reception ceremony at Sunday Mass for each candidate or set of candidates as they come in. A candidate is certainly allowed to wait for the Vigil, but most choose not to. We had two elect and two candidates come in last night.



It’s not just the sacrament of Confirmation itself, but the act of receiving the previously baptized into the Church is reserved to the bishop; who may then delegate that to pastors and/or other priests.

For those who will be looking for a citation, see RCIA #481


I’m trying to keep everything straight here, so bear with me.

With regard to the parish where you are visiting: the previously-baptized adults who come into the Church are confirmed when they enter the Church, not afterwards. If they are received by the bishop, then they are confirmed at that time. If they are received by the pastor, they are likewise confirmed (there are canon law reasons for this, but I won’t get into that).

With regard to the parish where you were received: They did combine the 2 forms of RCIA into a single class, as most US parishes do. Even though this is the typical experience, it’s not the ideal one, and it’s not what the Church intends, even though it is permitted.

The previously-baptized not only “can” but “should” be brought into the Church as soon as they are ready. So, if it seems like they’re being left-out by not being confirmed at the Easter Vigil, think of it this way: by making them wait longer than they actually should have to wait, that’s worse than not-allowing them a special part in the Vigil. If a person is ready to become Catholic in May, why wait until next April?


Our parish used to receive candidates into the Church at the Easter Vigil but for the most part they are now received into the Church at other times. We often receive them on some other solemnity such as Christmas or the Epiphany.

Now if a particular family has both catechumens and candidates then we would probably receive the candidates at the Easter Vigil.

Catechumens and candidates do attend some of the same classes. I think we might have a couple of combined RCIA rites but in general we try to treat the candidates and catechumens differently to honor their very different status.


I understand that. I am just glad that wasn’t done when I converted. Being part of the Easter Vigil was really special to me. The names of those received in March and last December (I think) were printed in the bulletin but there was never a reception for them. This is my regular parish and they were never introduced to anyone. I just know I wouldn’t have liked that.


But it doesn’t have to be done that way. People received in March or December or any other month can be (and should be!) celebrated. They don’t have to slip under the radar.


:slight_smile: My perspective…I was received in the summer and I don’t know how I could have made it through that next year without the Sacraments!


We had 13 Baptized Candidates this year, meaning that if we had brought them in one at a time, we would have been throwing parties for them once every three weeks. You would have to have an incredible budget, to throw a party once every three weeks on average, as you are receiving people one at a time into the Church. Also, it would stop being special after a point - it would end up becoming very routine, and the parties would end up being poorly attended.

I find it much easier to train them, catechize them, and bring them into the Church as a group. I also don’t think it’s “unfair” for them to have to wait for each other to finish, to be received into the Church. Most people, including those already baptized, are woefully under-catechechized when they first arrive at the door. Since they generally skip the Period of Inquiry, they really only get about four months of formation, anyway, and most of them need every second of it - most people don’t know very much about the teachings of the Church or even traditional Christianity generally, when they first arrive, especially when their reasons for converting have little or nothing to do with Jesus.


I totally agree. I like everyone coming in together. I also still didn’t know very much after nine months. I certainly should not have been allowed in when I was received.


What’s the likelihood that every one of them would be ready at a different time? Perhaps you would end up with three or four times a year that several people would be brought in at once. That’s how it works for us.

it would end up becoming very routine, and the parties would end up being poorly attended.

I don’t know what kind of parties you throw. For us it means cake instead of donuts after Mass with the newly received being there to receive good wishes and blessings from people.

I find it much easier to train them, catechize them, and bring them into the Church as a group. I also don’t think it’s “unfair” for them to have to wait for each other to finish, to be received into the Church.

See the rite:

  1. This is the liturgical rite by which a person born and baptized in a separated ecclesial Community is received according to the Latin rite into the full communion of the Catholic Church. The rite is so arranged that no greater burden than necessary (see Acts 15:28) is required for the establishment of communion and unity.

  2. The baptized Christian is to receive both doctrinal and spiritual preparation, adapted to individual pastoral requirements for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church. The candidate should learn to deepen an inner adherence to the Church where he or she will find the fullness of his or her baptism. During the period of preparation the candidate may share in worship in conformity with the provisions of the Ecumenical Directory. Anything that would equate candidates for reception with those who are catechumens is to be absolutely avoided.

You’re in Canada and I don’t know if your bishops have issued something similar to the US National Statutes on the Catechumenate. For the US we have:

31…Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate.

  1. It is preferable that reception into full communion not take place at the Easter Vigil lest there be any confusion of such baptized Christians with the candidates for baptism, possible misunderstanding of or even reflection upon the sacrament of baptism celebrated in another Church or ecclesial community, or any perceived triumphalism in the liturgical welcome into the Catholic eucharistic community.

Most people, including those already baptized, are woefully under-catechechized when they first arrive at the door. Since they generally skip the Period of Inquiry, they really only get about four months of formation, anyway, and most of them need every second of it - most people don’t know very much about the teachings of the Church or even traditional Christianity generally, when they first arrive, especially when their reasons for converting have little or nothing to do with Jesus.

Then they should stay in RCIA as long as necessary and not have the Easter Vigil as an arbitrary date for them to enter the Church. The idea is to adapt according to the needs of the candidates.


I guess our Diocese was doing it differently because everyone waited until the vigil. I certainly would have wanted to–but …this church doesn’t do it at all…if you are a candidate you are not brought in at the vigil even if you want to do it that way. It is ONLY for those who are baptized. I don’t get it. If everyone was on the same page, but they are not and I found it rather sad. No one even knew any of the candidates or got to meet them. People who come in at a Sunday Mass can be wished good luck because people at my parish run off 100 mph to get out of the church. No one really stays. In my experience, people who attend the vigil often stay. Our reception, midnight snack time, was packed. I think they could have at least been introduced and then been at the vigil reception.

I remember one Sunday there was a baptism and people were complaining (yes they were) that it was going to make the Mass “go longer” so they are the minority but it doesn’t tend to make people warm and gushy about welcoming people if they have to stay an extra 5 minutes (sad, isn’t it?) I needed the vigil as I had no one with me. I was alone and I can’t imagine having everyone rushing off and no one at my “reception”. I’ve seen less than 10 for donuts and coffee.

I think that it’s better to go through the whole RCIA --a lot of people didn’t even attend church. Just because mom had someone baptize me didn’t mean I had any church knowledge whatsoever. It didn’t help my mother was told all sort of goofy stuff about Catholics and was anti-Catholic. I just remember how exciting it was to watch some of my classmates being baptized, and all of us being confirmed together. It was a very moving experience and, yes, I would have gladly waited 3,5, 9 months to do it all at the same time. This “why should they wait” attitude is a little concerting.


I think it’s about priorities. It is more important that they be received than that they be celebrated. I’m sure they value receiving the Body of Christ more than the party that might follow it.


Yes, I agree.

Why make them wait? It isn’t like it would have to be one a week. It could be once a month.

We have donuts and coffee, once a month. Make it cake instead and celebrate those that have or those that are entering the Church.

And, heck, if someone wants to wait, they can. :shrug:

We had almost 30 candidates enter the Church on Saturday night.


I agree, of course, but I just think it’s sad that no one has had an opportunity to welcome them. Especially if they were in my boat and came in with no supportive family/friends. Thanks everyone for the explanations, I had no idea what the protocol was and now at least I know. Thanks for the clarification. :thumbsup: I learned in my first year I was never supposed to have been brought in at that time in the first place. I appreciate all the postings.


That’s the problem; nobody wants to wait. They think if they’ve read a homily by Pope Francis, or if they know how to make the Sign of the Cross, they’re ready to be received into the Church, and if there’s a policy that they get to be received at the moment of demand, then they will receive little if any formation whatsoever - after all, why take a course or undergo a process of conversion, if you don’t have to?

We used to have that policy of receiving people on demand, and our experience of it was very negative - Father was finding that they were treating him like their servant, and not obeying anything he told them, since they got the idea that they could just demand anything they wanted from him (and naturally so), since they were received into the Church on demand, after all, which is why we have switched back to requiring people to undergo the RCIA.

It’s not perfect, but it’s something, at least, and they come into the Church with at least some idea of the expectations, and some knowledge of the faith.

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