Joining the Catholic Church
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults
If you are an unbaptized person or a baptized non-Catholic seeking to enter into the Catholic Church, or a baptized Catholic who needs sacramental preparation for Confirmation or first Holy Communion, our campus minister is available to help prepare you to receive the sacraments of initiation in the Catholic Church. Contact Deacon Matthew Newsome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Initiation into the sacramental life of the Catholic Church is achieved through the three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Adult converts to the Catholic Church, as well as partially initiated Catholics, receive these sacraments through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
Christians who have been baptized in another ecclesial communion (Protestant denomination) who wish to join the Catholic Church receive catechesis in the Catholic faith before being received into communion with the Catholic Church with the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist (Holy Communion).
Unbaptized individuals are prepared for baptism into the Catholic Church through a four-step process of inquiry, catechumenate, purification & enlightenment, and mystagogy.
Many wishing to enter the Catholic Church may not have had much formation in Christian life, and likely have many questions about Catholicism. Inquiry is the stage of the RCIA where those interested in learning more are given the opportunity to ask questions, to hear about the message of Jesus Christ, and witness how it is lived out in the Church. A person may continue Inquiry sessions for as long as they wish and no commitments are made or expected during this time. (You can think of this stage in terms of dating someone — you are getting to know one another but no commitments are made).
If a person decides to pursue the process of becoming Catholic, he or she enters the Catechumenate with the Rite of Acceptance. This stage involves formal catechesis (systematic instruction in the teachings of the Church); public and private prayer, and greater participation in the life of the Church. During this time, each catechumen will have a sponsor to serve as a spiritual companion, offering support and encouragement. The climax of the Catechumenate is acceptance into the body of the Elect. There is no set time period for how long a person will be a catechumen, but it generally lasts several months to one year. (You can think of this stage in terms of an engagement — you have made a commitment with the intention to marry, but you aren’t married yet).
Purification & Enlightenment
After a catechumen is enrolled as one of the Elect, he or she enters the period of Purification and Enlightenment, which corresponds to the season of Lent (the weeks leading up to Easter) which is a special time of prayer, fasting, and charitable works. This is a time of reflection and intense spiritual preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation, which are celebrated at the Easter Vigil Mass, the most solemn liturgical celebration of the Church year. (You can think of this in terms of a wedding feast!)
This final stage of the RCIA involves looking back and reflecting on the rites and liturgies the new Catholic has experienced, and through prayer and with the support of the community, becoming full and active members of the Body of Christ. Mystagogy lasts from Easter to Pentecost, but can be extended for a full year.
On the campus of Western Carolina University, our campus minister is able to create a flexible RCIA program to accommodate the college student's calendar.
How to get started
If you are an unbaptized person interested in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a baptized Christian interested in becoming a Catholic, or a baptized Catholic in need of first Eucharist or Confirmation, please contact us at email@example.com or 828-293-9374.