Frequently Asked Questions
How can I become Catholic?
If you are un-baptized then you will enter the church through baptism. If you are already baptized then you will enter the church by making a profession of faith. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the Church’s way to initiate its new member and thereby become Catholic.
Who is the R.C.I.A. for?
It is for those who have never been baptized. Through prayer and study of the faith you will enter the church through baptism. Easter is the usual time for adult baptism in the Catholic Church.
It is also for those who are baptized and have joined us from another Christian tradition but have little knowledge and experience of what it means to be a Catholic Christian. For a person to become Catholic they do not need to be baptized again. One may come into “Full Communion” by a period of study and participation in liturgy with our community. The Catholic Church respects your Christian upbringing and the faith experiences that are part of your life. Becoming Catholic does not mean rejecting your previous faith background. You can now live it out in the Catholic Church.
It is for adult Catholics who would like to complete the sacraments of initiation: (Eucharist and Confirmation)
What is a “Rite”?
A rite is a public religious celebration during Mass. We celebrate a number of rites during the year as a part of the RCIA.
The Rite of Acceptance (for those not yet baptized) and the Rite of Welcome (for the baptized) celebrate your decision to seriously pursue membership in the Catholic community.
Beginning with the First Sunday of Advent (early December) and each subsequent Sunday, we celebrate the Rite of Dismissal when our candidates are dismissed following the prayers of the Faithful during a Sunday Mass. They will then regroup and delve deeper into the scripture readings for that Sunday.
On the first Sunday of Advent, those previously baptized will also be sent from the Community of St. Elizabeth Seton during the Rite of Sending to join the Bishop at the Cathedral of St. Raymond for the Call to Continuing Conversion. This is the next step on your faith journey and it signifies your willingness to seriously pursue full communion in the Catholic Faith.
In the Rite of Election, our bishop formally welcomes the un-baptized to the Church and declares that you are among the “Elect”; that is, the chosen ones. We celebrate this on the first Sunday of Lent, after the parish has given you a prayerful send off in the Rite of Sending.
The Rites of Initiation celebrate your entry into “full communion” with the Catholic faithful through the reception of the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
What are some aspects of the process?
- Study: RCIA sessions are held Thursday Evenings from 7:30 – 9:00 PM
- Worship: Beginning in early December, Candidates participate at Sunday liturgy every week. They come forward for prayer before the community and are dismissed for continued reflection on the Sunday Scripture and study of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.
- Prayer: Through participation in Sunday Mass, “retreats”, and personal devotional time the candidate’s spiritual life develops.
- Social: The community is an important aspect of Christian life. Participation in various parish events is encouraged.
- Service: Outreach to others is essential to the Christian way of life. Sponsors introduce their candidates to the opportunities available and help make the connections.
What are the expectations for those involved in the RCIA process?
You are expected to participate in the weekly Thursday evening study sessions and liturgical celebrations. By your attendance at Mass, the faith community will witness to your commitment and come to know you and pray for you.
I’m not much of a student. Is this a “class”?
We meet in a classroom but it shouldn’t be considered a “class”. We want you to discover God on a personal level. There are no tests, no grades. The goal is conversion through a “change of heart”.
What am I expected to know?
Your faith journey is a time of formation and conversion. Faith formation involves learning about the faith, practices and doctrines but we do not stop there. It is also about conversion. Your faith journey began before you contacted us and will continue throughout your life. Conversion is a time for you to grow in the awareness of your relationship with God and with the Catholic Church. Bring an open heart and mind. You will learn to live out your call to be a disciple of Jesus within the Catholic Faith.
How long does it take to become a Catholic?
This question is answered differently by everyone and it is difficult to give a time frame at the outset. There is no need to rush your faith journey. If you have not been baptized, the process usually takes at least one year. Adult baptisms are celebrated at the Easter Vigil. If you have already been baptized into another Christian faith tradition, you may require less time, depending on the faith formation you previously received and your present involvement in the practice of your faith. We want to listen to both your needs and desires. We also do not want to deprive you of the opportunity to discern God’s call at this important moment in your life. Time is needed for your faith formation as an adult and we ask that you be open to the process.
What if I get started and decide this isn’t for me?
Faith in God and the decision to become a member of the Catholic Church are personal choices that must be made in an atmosphere of complete freedom. We will try our best to help you understand what it means to be a Catholic Christian. But we sincerely believe that you must be allowed to use God’s gifts of conscience and free will without feeling any pressure from us. Should you decide that this is not for you, no one will pressure you to reconsider your decision – it is entirely up to you.
What is a Sponsor?
A sponsor is an active member of the Catholic community of St Elizabeth Seton who is willing to be a friend and guide, and to participate in the RCIA with you. If there is someone you know who is a practicing Confirmed Catholic and would be willing to be your sponsor, please invite them. Otherwise we will assign a sponsor from our faith community to accompany you during this time.
Can my spouse or fiancé be my sponsor?
A spouse or fiancé may participate in the RCIA with you as your sacramental sponsor provided that they are Confirmed Catholics. However an unrelated person or another member of the Catholic community will also be assigned to you as your sponsor while you are in the RCIA. This provides an opportunity to broaden your perspective. You do not need to find your own sponsor. We have members from our parish that have volunteered to join you in this effort.
I have children and teens that aren’t members of the church either. What about them?
We have an RCIC (Right of Christian Initiation for Children) program for those who are ages 7 to 18. Please contact Deacon Bart Federici at 630 416-3385 for more information. Children under the age of 7 may be baptized along with their parents or older siblings at the Easter Vigil.
I have been through a divorce. Will this stand in the way of my becoming a Catholic?
If you have been divorced and not remarried, this will not stand in the way of your becoming Catholic. If you have been divorced and remarried, there is a process by which the church grants you a Declaration of Freedom to Marry in the Catholic Church, and through which your current marriage can be recognized in the Catholic Church. The Parish and the Diocese of Joliet Tribunal will work with you through this process.
I am getting married. Will I be able to complete the RCIA by then?
The faith journey to become a Catholic takes time and energy. The timeline of a faith journey does not always coincide with that of a wedding. If you are engaged, the deepening of your relationship with your fiancé and the preparation for your wedding takes time. The deepening of your relationship with the Church community and the preparation for your baptism or full communion with the church also takes time. It may or may not be possible for both journeys to arrive at a particular calendar date at the same time. We will work with you through this process.
May I bring a friend?
Yes, we encourage it! As a matter of fact, spouses, fiancés, and sponsors are especially encouraged to join us on a regular basis.
What is the time commitment?
We ask that you commit to our Sunday sessions that include worship and prayer with our faith community by attendance at a designated Sunday Mass, and formal class time on Thursday evenings from 7:30 – 9:00 pm. We also have 1 retreat during the year (about 6 hours) and various liturgical rites associated with the RCIA.
Is there a cost for participating in RCIA?
No. We supply you with everything that you need.
When does the program begin?
We begin our Inquiry sessions this year on Thursday September 9, 2010 and continue on through the beginning of May 2011. The time to receive the sacraments (or reception into Full Communion) is dependent on when you are ready, although the Easter Vigil is the primary time for adult baptisms and reception into the Catholic Church.
How do I get started?
The process begins with your contacting Deacon Bart Federici at 630 416-3385 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time to meet with you to answer any questions you may have and discuss how we can best serve your individual needs.
The Faith Community of St Elizabeth Seton welcomes you!
We look forward to sharing in the gifts you bring and the journey ahead of you.
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Through this process, which involves various rituals and parish support, adults who were never previously baptized are added to the faith through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion. Those Adults, who were previously baptized in another Christian faith, are brought into Full Communion with the Catholic Church through a profession of faith and reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion. Children, who have reached catechetical age, but are still dependent upon their parents, may also be received into the Faith as described above through an age appropriate instruction program.
Adult Catholics who were baptized but not instructed in the faith enter the RCIA to prepare to complete their Rites of Initiation by receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and/or Holy Communion.
This initiation is a gradual nurturing process that helps people to learn more about the Catholic Faith and it takes place within the community of St. Elizabeth Seton Parish. The faithful provide an example that will help those seeking to embrace the Catholic Faith to obey the Holy Spirit more generously. Sessions are held on Thursday evening’s beginning in early September and continue through the Easter season. At any time during this journey participants are free to leave if they determine that this journey is not for them. No one is obligated to continue if they choose not to.
This journey includes four periods of inquiry and growth.
1. The first period is that of inquiry. It is a time to reflect on just what the Church is about and what will be required of all participants.
2. The second period, which begins with the Call to Continuing Conversion, includes catechesis and the rites connected with catechesis. It comes to an end on the day of election. Following the Liturgy of the Word at Sunday Liturgies during this period, participants will have an opportunity to break open the Word and delve deeper into the teachings of Scripture.
3. The third and much shorter period, which follows the rite of elec¬tion, coincides with the beginning of Lent. It is a time of introspection to seriously reflect on the commitment that will be made at the Easter Vigil.
4. The final period of Mystagogia is a time for deepening the Christian experience, for spiritual growth, and for entering more fully into the life and unity of the community.
Thus these four continuous periods are designed to provide a time for an intense informed spiritual preparation culminating at the Easter Vigil when the participants are welcomed into the Catholic Faith by the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.