RCIA - 'Private Course'?

Dear all,

Apologies if this is in the wrong section.

I am currently helping my wife into the church. I myself was in RCIA. However, my journey started by knocking on a priest’s door and sitting down each evening. I didn’t know what RCIA was.

I’m not sure if it’s a formal process or whether baptism and confirmation can be completed following a few meetings, sitting down with a priest, with my help at home, too? My reasoning is that my wife wants to be baptised sooner rather than later- and of course, who are we to withold that- it’s a great thing!

The next RCIA course doesn’t start until late this year. Would a priest usually take someone under his wing? Is it permissible?


It depends how well your wife already knows the faith, and ultimately, on the priest. Why don’t you ask him? I know of at least three cases in which converts in my home parish were given private instruction for various reasons. That said, if the greatness of baptism warrants giving it sooner rather than later, it also warrants proper preparation.

If your wife is not already baptized then I think it is unlikely that she would be allowed to be baptized at a time other than at the Easter Vigil —which would be next year at the earliest.

If she has already been (validly) baptized (although from what you said it seems she has not) then there is a good chance she could be received into the Church as soon as she and the priest think she is ready.

All that said, you won’t know until you ask your priest.

It depends on the priest. Normally, yes one goes thru RCIA’s formal process, but it’s not set in stone.

Truth be told, in ancient times, most had to go thru a 3 year process. The Church wants people well prepared.

Has your wife been baptized in another denomiations. Often times, those baptisms are considered valid so she may not need baptism

She needs to sit down with the priest, and it’s his call.

Of course it’s permissible .

It just depends on whether an individual priest permits it for his own reasons .

If you approach the priest who gave you catechesis , and I take it he is approachable , there shouldn’t be any problem .

Yes, it’s permitted. You (plural) can ask the priest to do it that way, but you will likely need a very good reason.
Canon 863 reserves the baptism of adults (over age 14) to the bishop. While the bishops usually allow pastors to do this, through the RCIA process, it’s not a given. Sometimes bishops allow pastors to baptize adults only if they go through the usual process of RCIA for the unbaptized, with the baptism happening at the Easter Vigil.

So, the answer to your question is that “yes, it’s permitted” but that doesn’t mean that it might be possible for you to do it this way.

What you need to do is to talk to your pastor and take it from there.


I read your previous posts to get a better picture.
It sounds like the reason your RCIA experience was less formal and quicker is because you were already Catholic by baptism and just needed less instruction.

If your wife has never been baptized, her need for great catechesis may be greater. She may be asked to go thru the formal RCIA course to be baptized at the next vigil.

God bless you both!

i couldn’t make the RCIA classes due to having two young children, so i met with the priest once a week for 6 months was confirmed at Easter

Dear all

Thanks for the replies- a big help.

The picture I have from this is that the process is quite ‘involved’- we do understand the gravity of it, nonetheless. Not to be morbid- it is a worry for me though. What if something were to happen to her (though I doubt God would put us on this path knowing this).

The priest was rather sketchy on the details- a very wise and older man, but I came away not sure what the process would be.

The priest (monsignor) who instructed me sadly passed towards the end of my schooling.

I was not baptised befire- and received in the Easter Vigil

If it helps to alleviate your concerns…

Catechumens (those who have gone through the Rite of Acceptance) are considered part of the Church even if they have not yet been baptized. (That doesn’t mean someone should be presumptuous and stay a catechumen forever.)

One typically goes through the Rite of Acceptance in a communal form during communal RCIA. I don’ know if that was your experience. But there are other possibilities that might be available to your wife.

As we’ve all said, you need to ask.

I do understand the significance of the undertaking. I am anxious to start the process since it has been difficult to get this moment in our lives where we can actually afford the time to really consider the faith; to talk, discuss- go to mass. I recently returned to the church after a spell away and I strongly felt God calling me to bring my wife with me, back to the Church.

She is not baptised at all. I was fortunate that I started around November time, and was received at the Easter Vigil.

I think she would be heart broken if we had to wait a year.

I’m just conscious of the fact that, in the past, my wife was pushed away from the church by some people who caused her distress as a child, and in later life too.
Therefore I think that any obstacles are going to be strongly felt.

Like you, I’m not trying to be morbid. However, since you did ask: in danger of death, anything not essential* would not apply. If that were to happen, she could be baptized immediately and any priest could confirm her and give her Communion. Indeed, in immediate danger of death, you personally may (and even must) baptize her yourself if there’s no priest present.

  • what I mean by that is that the baptism must be administered using water (essential) but there would be no requirement to wait nor to have permission from the bishop.

It may be helpful to add that RCIA and our Catholic Catechism both were developed as a result of the Vatican II Council in the 1960’s. For many years prior to that the diocese and parishes were free to develop their own procedures. Although there is a very detailed RCIA instruction, bishops and parish priests still have a good deal of latitude in how and when the RCIA program is conducted.
If you are actively attending Mass, involved a bit in parish activities, and relatively familiar with the Catholic Catechism, priests may not press for the full RCIA program. As you have probably surmised, the gathering of inquirers and candidates with the RCIA team is at least as important in bringing and welcoming new people into our Catholic community as it is for the teaching imparted.
Please note there is an RCIA and Converts Group here at Cathcom which has more info and discussion. To find it, go to any group (see list on right side of the forum home page), then use the search groups box at the upper left of the Group screen and enter RCIA (or anything else you might like to search about Groups).
We will keep you in our prayers.

We – average people – often see RCIA as classes that someone takes, and then “graduates” by receiving the sacraments of initiation. That’s not the Church’s vision of the process. And in a parish that is more aligned with how the Church sees things, RCIA is a beautiful process to behold.

Someone moves gradually from one state in life – a non-Christian – to a very different state – a baptized Christian. There’s a process of deepening one’s relationship with God, establishing a life of prayer, being an apprentice in the Christian life, and taking on the life of a Christian believer. The catechumen is supported by the community and gradually becomes a part of the community. Rites along the way celebrate what has already happened and anticipate what is still to come.

Catherine of Siena is supposed to have said “All the way to God is God.” In other words, fully experience the here-and-now knowing that the journey itself is important.

In my FSSP parish, Father personally instructs all converts to the faith.
I’m linking to their webpage which has a section on convert instruction and also a link to the FSSP.


Perhaps you might check their site to see if there is an FSSP parish near you where your wife could request individual instruction?
You might also discuss your concerns with priests at other parishes to see if any might be in a position to provide individual instruction.
May God bless you and your wife as you respond to His call.

Thank you everyone so far!

“Catherine of Siena is supposed to have said “All the way to God is God.” In other words, fully experience the here-and-now knowing that the journey itself is important.”

  • Very true

To: FrDavid96 - thank you too. I was also concerned about if anything happened to her, you know?
Don’t like asking questions like that, of course. But I do want her to be saved!

He may, and it is permissible, and he might even have one of the parish catechists do the same.

I am a catechist and RCIA team member at my parish, and I have, on several occasions, have been asked by the Pastor (and the Religious Education Director) to provide individualized instruction before entry into full communion with the Church.

Of course, it is situational, and your priest may require the traditional RCIA classes, and not individual catechesis.

Peace and all Good!

Thanks Neofight.

I can’t imagine the church should want to make it difficult in this respect- afterall we are called to evangelise. I may ask in neighbouring parishes too, and see what they say.

I highly, highly recommend RCIA. My husband and I were both previously baptized but went through the entire RCIA regimen and I can tell you it helped us both grow tremendously in our faith. One of the many, many benefits and beauties of RCIA is the fellowship with your classmates who are walking the path alongside you. I wouldn’t trade that time with them for anything, and I grew very close to the catechumens and candidates in my husband’s class because I was his and another’s sponsor. I longed for the Eucharist but found that it was well worth the wait. And I didn’t think of it at all as the Church making it difficult for us. Rather, She was preparing us well.

God bless both of you!!

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