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 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.
What is a “Rite”?
A rite is a public religious celebration. 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.
Each Sunday, we celebrate the Rite of Dismissal when our candidates are dismissed with the prayers of the assembly at the 8:30 a.m. Mass.
In the Rite of Election, our bishop formally welcomes you 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 baptism, Eucharist and confirmation.
What are some aspects of the process?
Study: RCIA sessions are held Wednesdays from 7:00 – 8:30pm.
Worship: Candidates participate at Sunday liturgy every week and come forward for prayer by the community and dismissal 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
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 sessions and liturgical celebrations. We attend mass, and 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.
What is a Sponsor?
A sponsor is an active member of St. Mary parish 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 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 may participate in the RCIA with you or may choose to be a sponsor to another candidate however an unrelated person or another member of the parish will 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 a program for those who are ages 7 to 18. Contact the Director of Religious Education for information on our faith formation programs for children.
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 Raleigh 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 Wednesday sessions that include worship and prayer with our faith community by attendance of 9:30 Sunday Mass, study of scripture and formal class time until 12:00pm. We also have 2 retreats during the year (about 2 hours each) 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?
Classes begin in late August or early September. The time to receive the sacraments (or reception into Full Communion) is somewhat dependent on when you start the sessions and on personal situations, although Easter Vigil is the primary time for adult baptisms. You will begin to meet with the Inquiry group and will progress at your own pace.
How do I get started?
The Parish of St. Mary welcomes you!
We look forward to sharing in the gifts you bring and the journey ahead of you.