I am unbaptized, and want to join the Catholic church. A couple months ago I contacted the woman in charge of RCIA at the parish where I recently moved, and she had me start attending inquiry classes. I have read, studied, prayed, gone to mass at different parishes for several years, but only now am settled down enough to do RCIA, and I am 100% sure I want to join the church. So now I have been going to inquiry for a couple months, and when I asked about when I might be able to start RCIA, I was told I should keep going to the inquiry classes and then “we’ll see.” She said they have recently begun to do things the way they did them in the ancient church. I think I read somewhere that in the ancient church it took 3 years to be baptized! I know patience is a virtue, but I am so eager to be able to take part in the sacraments.
As a side note, I was married once, and divorced. I have no intention or desire to marry again, and have lived a celibate life for 5 years now, so I do not think that should be a question. Can they deny me because of that?
Definitely speak to the priest. Let him know you’re committed to becoming a Catholic, that you’ve studied the faith, and that you’re ready to be baptized and accepted into the Church as soon as possible.
you are right your marriage and divorce is a side issue now and not the reason the director suggested you continue in the inquiry period for a while longer. Don’t know your situation but if you think marriage and romance might be in your future it would not hurt to ask about the annulment process now. The longer you wait the harder it is to gather paperwork, witnesses etc.
If you are in Inquiry you ARE in RCIA now, it is the first part of the process, also called initial evangelization. Your job in this period is to ask questions and get answers. The transition from this to the catechumenate is a formal one, marked by a rite, called rite of acceptance in which you formally before the entire Church indicate your initial acceptance of the Gospel and your intent to ask for baptism. It is a big step and not to be taken lightly. The director should not be taking this lightly or pushing people along before they are ready and readiness should be discerned with the individual, the catechist, the director, and the pastoral member of the RCIA team. The best time to begin the catechumenate is around Lent and it should last at least a year, up to the following Lent, when you will become a member of the Elect, those in immediate preparation for the Easter sacraments.
take heart and let God be in control, his timing is perfect. Just as courtship cannot be rushed, neither can this process. And yes you should sit down with the director and ask her why she thinks you are not ready, it may be she is waiting to get a catechumenate class together to begin sometime after Christmas–that is what we are doing here. And yes now is a good time to make a private appointment with the pastor and discuss your situation.
Speak to the priest. Priests give up their lives to bring souls into the Catholic church. Before the RCIA program was standardized, it was the priest who taught the lessons and introduced people to the Church through private lessons and meetings. I also recommend reading the Baltimore Catechism, researching the lives of saints (to find your saint name and to get a great feel for the church.), and working yourself into a rosary devotion. The history of the Catholic church and the rosary are what really got me hungry for the Truth.
I know you are sincere in wanting to be accepted into the church. Don’t worry because things work out for the people who are actively searching for God in their life.
Always speak to the priest. He might give you the “busy eye,” but sometimes you just have to insist (politely). Lay persons who do these jobs are often well meaning, but they are not clergy and sometimes they get confused about their level of authority. Congratulations, by the way.
This post has me quite worried…
I have spent the best part of 10 years exploring God and trying to figure out where I was meant to be, and finally I have realised I was being drawn to the Catholic church for a reason!
However I have never been baptised, I have been married twice and divorced twice (though not church weddings), and I’m now a single parent - am I likely to get the ‘brush-off’ too when I approach my local church? I’m moving to a new area shortly so know nothing about the priest or anything…
I did contact a local priest a few years ago asking about RCIA - and he wrote back inviting me along…and then when I told him my situation at the time (I was living with my partner) I didn’t even get a reply!! Needless to say that upset me and put me off and I haven’t tried again until now…
Surely one’s current situation shouldn’t exclude them from coming to learn about the church’s teachings?
(I’m no longer ‘living in sin’, by the way!)
And yes I realise I’m probably opening myself up for some criticism here…
originally posted by ClaireUK
am I likely to get the ‘brush-off’
No criticism from me. I’ve been where you are, only worse!
After falling away (far away!) from my lutheran upbringing and living a hedonistic life that makes me blush to remember, I found Christ in The Catholic Church through internet inquiry. I spent 6 months digging into this beautiful faith and when I knew I could wait no longer, I walked into the closest Catholic Church and asked for instruction. I was welcomed in every sense of the word. It took almost 3 years to sort out the mess I’d made of my previous life but I stayed in R.C.I.A. for that entire time. In those 3 years I only missed weekly sessions twice and then because I was sick. I** LOVED** R.C.I.A. and Mystagogia and didn’t want any of it to end though I knew my entry into the Chruch would end it except to go back as a sponsor, which I did. I knew all would come to be in God’s own time and it did.
I was Confirmed in 8/02 and have never looked back, though my faith caused me to lose the husband I had at the time. He just did not want to be with me anymore because I had changed 180 degrees from what I’d been when we married.
That’s ok. I grieved the loss but Christ held me and I’ve moved even closer to Him through the Holy Mother Church.
I wish you every wonderful happening which was extended to me.
Your priest will want to know this. At the parish I attend Mass at, they did get rid of a lady who was running the RCIA classes for reasons like yours, but a whole lot more. They never would have known about all of it had people not spoken up about it. They trusted her, and learned their lesson. Now, only priests teach the classes.
Talk to the priest. He is in charge- some priests just delegate certain things (like teaching RCIA) to lay people because there aren’t as many priests in parishes anymore. Unfortunately, sometimes the lay people running these things think they know more than they know, and think they have more authority than they have. Try to get your marriage annulled but as far as I know, since you’re not remarried, there shouldn’t be a problem receiving the Sacraments. If the RCIA program you’re doing takes three years, please find another church- RCIA should only take about six months. It does NOT take three years to learn enough to receive the Sacraments of initiation.
Generally the RCIA process and how long it takes is up to you. They generally go from the fall till after Easter. Myself was in it for only one “semester” so to speak then I was received. I was not baptized either but the group I was with was great. I was however attending Mass for 2 years prior before I made the decision to join an RCIA group. Like everyone on this thread the best course of action is to talk to the priest. God bless and if you have any questions on the RCIA process just let me know.
I am so sorry for your pain. Yes you should talk to the priest.
While a decree of nullity is not required the team may want to make sure you understand that by going into this without one that you may be agreeing to a lifetime of celibacy if you are not able to get one later depending on your circumstances. This is something you should talk to your priest about anyway. You may decide to put in the paperwork regardless as decrees of nullity are often a healing process in themselves and as you take Sacraments and receive graces your view of things may change and it may free you up to make other decisions without lengthy explanations even including some organizations within the Church that require you to be in good standing. Yes, sometimes it is just easier to look at someone and say yes, I have my decree of nullity then it is to say I am divorced, yes, I understand I can’t date. Trust me I will be applying for my decree shortly.
The reinstating of the catecheumenate happened with the second Vatican Council. In 1972 Pope Paul VI promulgated the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults. That is not recent. Perhaps this parish is recently beginning to follow The National Statutes for the Catechumenate, approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Confirmed by Congregation of Divine Worship, statues which many parishes still do not follow.
The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens can take place on almost any Sunday in the year. There are a few considerations about scheduling including readings for the day that are appropriate for the rite. We had a Rite of Acceptance this past Sunday and tentatively have another one scheduled in Feb. (We’re celebrating the Rite of Reception into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church for several candidates in a few weeks.)
There are rights that a catechumen has (pg 7)- the right to Christian burial and to marriage in the Catholic Church. And there is a different goal in the Catechumenate than in the in Period of Evangelization and Preatechumenate known as Inquiry.
The length of time one is in the Catechumenate depends on the circumstances of each person in their faith journey. The Sacraments of Initiation happen at the Easter Vigil except in exceptional circumstances.
It may be that the parish you are attending feels they lack the resources to accommodate you in the Catechumenate, or that they are still not fully familiar with the National Statutes for the Catechumenate or various other reasons why she has said “we’ll see.”
I agree with those who have encouraged you to speak with the pastor. If you feel comfortable doing so you could also ask the woman you say is in charge for a better explanation of what is involved in the decision to have a Rite of Acceptance for someone who feels ready as you do to make this commitment.
Being divorced is not an impediment to entering the Catechumenate nor to full Initiation. (It is an impediment to dating.)
Don’t be discouraged. There are people with many different needs who come to Inquiry, and the Director of Religious Education often has a variety of programs she/he is responsible for. Some parishes have a lot of support for the RCIA program and others do not.
In any case it is perfectly appropriate for you to be given information that allows you to understand the process and what to reasonably expect. Merely at face value from your own description, not knowing the “other side of the story”, it’s unclear why you should be prevented from entering the Catechumenate as soon as possible.
The National Statutes for the Catechumenate, approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Confirmed by Congregation of Divine Worship call for the RCIA process to be going year round. People enter “Inquiry” whenever they turn up and move on to the Rite of Acceptance when they are ready to make that commitment. The advantages of living a full liturgical year in the RCIA process are many. Many parishes don’t have the resources to have year round RCIA. Or they have “always done it this way”, often starting RCIA in the fall and ending after Pentecost until the next fall.
This time of the liturgical year is filled with joy and awe as we anticipate the Incarnation, the Word made flesh. May you fully embrace the season!
“Prepare, O Bethlehem, for Eden has been opened to all! Adorn yourself, O Ephratha, for the Tree of Life blossoms forth from the Virgin in the cave! Her womb is a spiritual paradise planted with the fruit divine; if we eat of it we shall live forever and not die like Adam. Christ is coming to restore the image which He made in the beginning.” Troparion of the Forefeast of the Nativity of our Lord
For what it’s worth, I know one couple who have spent 5 years as inquirers, and another 5 as catechumens… (yes, 10 years… and counting)… And yet, in the same parish, I’ve seen others come in in just under a year. It depends a lot on a variety of circumstances.
I have a serious question here. WHY does the Church hesitate to admit people? I thought that was the purpose of the Church, ie; to help everyone come to salvation. I hear that the RCIA needs to “make sure” people are “serious”. WHY?
If a person presents themselves to the Church and asks to be admitted how can some lay person decide that they need to be “examined” regarding their sincerity.
I don’t get it.
Let’s assume someone is NOT sincere, and the Church baptizes them. What harm has been done. Maybe the grace of baptism with change the person’s heart. Even if they are not “sincere” hasn’t the Church done them a service by allowing them to at least access the mechanism of salvation? Isn’t it G-d’s business to decide if a person is sincere or not?
So what if they subsequently leave, or change their minds or whatever. How has the faith or the person been damaged? I personally believe that all who seek the truth should be assumed to be doing exactly what they say they are doing. Yes, teach the tenants of the faith, but I just don’t get the “trial” period nonsense.
Please, if someone can, explain the reason for this “inquiry” period, please do so. Babies don’t have to go through this “examination” period. Why would a person who makes up their minds as thinking adults that they wish to enter the Church be doubted? To what purpose?
I see you are a convert and I hope that someone did a proper job explaining this to you in your RCIA class as it is very important.
Baptism leaves an indellible mark on the soul. The same with the other Sacraments of Initiation, Confirmation and Eucharist.
When someone accepts these Sacraments they take certain responsibilities:
To follow the five precepts
To follow marriage rules of the Church
If someone simply changes their mind and goes to another Church there is no way to follow the precepts and they possibly put themselves into mortal sin depending on their understanding but at best they work against the Grace of the Sacraments doing harm to the soul.
That is why the preparation for the Sacraments is so important. It is out of care for the Catechumen. The Church would obviously miss that person if they left but overall the damage, pain, and anguish of sin would be on the person going against their Sacramental Graces.
Wow,……your question, the responses, and the literal conclusion that one needs to go to your parish priest as the suggestion makes me all so glad to be a Catholic. And mind you, not to one of my separated Eastern Orthodox brother’s Church. We have an organization that some earlier Church councils sought even greater unity by placing issues of structure that were not elucidated in paragraph x, sub chapter y,…….and so forth in the bible. Yes, infallibility is not laid out as such in any specific biblical verse, but it gives greater comfort and organization to this Church!