Why does it take so long to be catholic?

Hey all,

I have been a confirmed catholic for the past 17 years. My wife and I just had our first born son baptized in the church as well. As my wife prepares for RCIA classes and entrance into the church, it begs the question: why is it so hard/take so long to become a catholic as an adult? Just a curiosity, as some Christian faiths will baptize you on the spot. I would never go against any teachings of the church, just wondering why as an adult it’s such a big thing. You’d think our numbers would skyrocket if it didn’t take almost 6 months of classes to join the church. Thanks!

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It’s a process of discernment. Oftentimes people may convert at a whim or during an emotionally charged crusade or out of fear or gratitude and then change their minds the next week when the high wears off. The RCIA period also gives people an introduction into the Church, it’s practices and what is expected/not expected of them at the layman level.

Getting people in the doors means little if it’s going to be a revolving door. People need to know what their getting themselves into so an informed choice can be made.

I think it’s right and proper the way it’s done in the Catholic Church. I was received this Easter after several months of classes, getting remarried in Church, going to other events outside my local area, having to face my first confession. It’s a commitment and at times it felt a bit of a struggle but by the time you are received you know exactly what you are being received into and you feel ready .

What you have written is exactly right. Also there is a lot more to know in Catholicism than the protestant faiths. New converts need to learn about Church teachings, sacramentals, saints, sacraments, Mary, the Mass, the Real Presence and transubstantiation, Vatican II, the Pope Bible history and Church history.

I totally understand. It seems so contrary to how Protestant churches work, and it’s seems like a deterrent rather than being helpful. But I will say this… From my experience, most Protestant churches only give you about 3-4 hours worth of informational classes, and then you are a member. Heck, I don’t even think the classes are even required for most of them, from what I remember. I’ve been a member of just about every mainstream church at one time or another.

While I was frustrated at first about how long the RCIA process takes, as the classes went along I realized how very LITTLE I actually knew about the doctrinal beliefs of all the other churches I had joined. Their classes were pretty shallow and vanilla. The Catholic Church really wants you to know their beliefs and practices, and even then 9 months isn’t nearly enough time to do much more than scratch the surface.

To prevent the missconception of Catholic faith.

Aren’t those who are attacking Catholics the ones who don’t understand about Catholic faith and haven’t been well catechised in the Catholic Church?

It also takes time to be an Orthodox. Our catechumen is not the same as Catholic’s RCIA classes.


Kind of like a courting period. :wink:

My experience is quite different, possibly because I live in a different country (Brazil). My wife is a cradle Catholic. I had been to mass with her occasionally over the years. We were living within walking distance of two churches, and she knew the priests at both. When I finally wished to convert, I had three or possibly four conversations with the parish priest. I don’t think any of our talks lasted more than a quarter of an hour or so. From start to finish, from the first time we spoke about my conversion to my First Communion, it can’t have been more than about two months. It could have been even quicker, but the priest postponed my First Communion for a week or two so that he could make it a bigger ceremony with three of us at once.

There are exceptions. In the hospital In one hour I received conditional baptism, confirmation, penance, the Eucharist, and the sacrament of the sick. I was planning to go through RCIA, but became seriously ill, and the outlook didn’t look good. Of course I wouldn’t recommend this, unless absolutely necessary! :slight_smile:

It is so hard/take so long to become a catholic as an adult because it is in the Bible! Matthew 28:20 “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. …”. Jesus spent three years teaching the Apostles and they still didn’t “get it” until Pentecost. So, six months isn’t that long!

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Because it’s worth it. :thumbsup:

Just a curiosity, as some Christian faiths will baptize you on the spot.

They act out of ignorance. When someone is baptized, they are taking on not only rights and privileges, but ALSO taking on responsibilities. Christ told us to pick up our cross daily and follow Him. When you get baptized and received into the Church, you are accepting this responsibility. It is downright cruel to throw such a burden onto someone with them not knowing about it. The Christian life isn’t easy, but it is worth it. But someone coming to Jesus needs to know what is involved.

You’d think our numbers would skyrocket if it didn’t take almost 6 months of classes to join the church.

Maybe. But would they actually live out the Christian faith? They wouldn’t know the faith, so how could they?

Thank you for that scripture!!! You make a good point about Jesus teaching the apostles for 3 years and they still didn’t get it!

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I like that!


Yes that has occurred at my Parish and it is up to the discretion of the Priest to ascertain whether the person is serious and knowledgeable about the basic tenements of the faith.

I went through a 9 month process which I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed.

That sounds about right. When I was RCIA director, our process was nine months, start to finish. I wouldn’t have wanted to try it in six months - there’s too much to cover. But it can take up to two years in some Parishes. Which I think is absurd.

afloor4927, is there a syllabus for your class that you could post (or a publisher you could refer to)? I’d like to see how they are doing it in six months.

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: Crucial point. Many who fall away do not really understand their own Catholic faith.

Yes. I believe this to be very true!

I am Catholic and totally disagree with the process. Men try to do the work of god and IMHO it is just not right. Catholics can dissent, as long as we do not dissent on Dogmas of the Faith. Actually we are compelled to disagree and to argue and propose. Many people may hate my stance. It is a good thing that people are being better prepared, but the truth is that even with all the mandatory pre marital courses, people are getting divorced at an even higher rate so courses are not working. I think that people are touched by the Holy Spirit all the time and conversion should not be a long and tennis process with locks, to dissuade false converts. I believe it is a matter of control more than anything else and not preparation, specially if they are being prepared like so many diocesan priests are prepared which is right down awful. But his is my opinion and if people like it good if they don¡t good for them and for me as well. Question your religion, question everything. Dissent is healthy and it is good. If there weren’t room for dissent within the Church then Luther would be completely vindicated, but he went further away than dissent, and then he went even further away.

I don’t see it that way. An adult who becomes a Catholic becomes a member of the Body of Christ, you might compare it to becoming a new member of a family. Most of us live a life time, but how much is there to “know”.

New converts need to learn about Church teachings, sacramentals, saints, sacraments, Mary, the Mass, the Real Presence and transubstantiation, Vatican II, the Pope Bible history and Church history.

Equally important to the specifics of these things is our relationship to them. To be Catholic means we freely accept our responsibilities and obligations to our faith and to the Church herself. It is only right and proper that any individual taking on these responsibilities to be fully appraised of how they will bind them to the Church.

Using the the Creed as an example when we say “I believe” or “We Believe” we are making a vow as well as a confession of faith. If “I believe” I will do according to my ability. In that vow is an implicit statement of fidelity. How can I be faithful without ‘knowing’ my responsibilities? And, I would almost bet there is more to ‘faith’ than partisanism and sectarianism. If that were the case parishes could hand out banners and flags, “Go Catholic” You need to know, and unfortunate as it is, coming to know takes time, sometimes a life time.


Well said.

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