Interested in finding out more about the Catholic faith?
Want to join the Catholic Church?
Catholic but have not received all the Sacraments of Initiation and now wish to?
Looking for an RCIA journey?
If you have answered yes to any of the questions, we welcome you and hope the FAQs will help you understand a bit more about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). For a list of RCIA journeys, please click on the RCIA box on your left.
What is RCIA?
The RCIA is a process of initiation into the Catholic Church for adults. This process prepares adults to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist). While the formal RCIA process tends to end some time after initiation, the RCIA journey continues where as a baptised Catholic, you will continue to be lifelong and joyful disciples of Jesus Christ.
The RCIA process is broken up into four periods:
I Evangelization and Pre-catechumenate
As an Inquirer, this is a time for you to ask questions, be introduced to Gospel values, and experience the beginnings of faith. If you feel that you are ready and would like to take the next step, this period concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.
As a Catechumen, this is a time for your faith to be nurtured. You will be participating in celebrations of the Word and attending sessions to learn about Catholic faith and teachings. If you feel that you are ready and would like to take the next step towards initiation, this period concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Election/Enrollment of Names where there will be a diocesan-wide celebration of Catechumens.
III Purification and Enlightenment
As an Elect, this period (usually during Lent) preceding your initiation is meant to be a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion, marked by the celebration of the scrutinies and preparation for the rites of the Sacraments of Initiation. During this time, you are still free to make a final decision whether you wish to be fully initiated into the church.
IV Mystagogy/Postbaptismal Catechesis
Now that you have been initiated, as a neophyte, you are fully a part of the community. This is a time for deepening of your faith.
How long is RCIA?
RCIA journeys have varying lengths. As a general guide, the journey is about a year - from your time of inquiry till a couple of weeks after baptism the following Easter.
If you find that you need more time to figure out if you really have the desire to join the Catholic Church, please do not feel that you need to rush the decision as the duration of the catechumenate should be long enough for the conversion and faith of the catechumens to become strong.
Must I get baptised and join the Catholic Church once I join RCIA?
No. You are welcome to join RCIA to simply find out more about the Catholic Church. There is no obligation to get baptised. You are free to make the decision.
I would like to join RCIA with my family, is it suitable for my children?
While the RCIA is meant for anyone above the age of reason (usually understood by the Catholic Church as 7 years of age), in practice, RCIA sessions are aimed for adults and so the topics and discussions may not be suitable for younger children. In some parishes, there are specific ministries that have adapted the RCIA for youth (RCIY) or children (RCIC) which could be more appropriate for your children. If the parish you have decided to join does not have such provisions, perhaps have a chat with the RCIA co-ordinator or parish priest to see if they have any suggestions. If your children are below the age of 7 and you wish for them to be baptised, they can be baptised through the Rite of Infant Baptism and will subsequently need to be catechised via catechetical classes (Sunday School) at your parish.
I am a baptised Christian. Will I be baptised again as Catholic?
No. The Catholic Church recognises valid Christian baptism – baptism with water using the Trinitarian formula (in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Where your baptism is recognised as valid, you will not need to be baptised but will join the RCIA journey as a Christian candidate seeking reception into full communion with the Catholic Church. Where after investigation there is still doubt regarding the validity of the baptism you have received, you will be baptised conditionally.
I am engaged to a Catholic. Will I be baptised/received into the Catholic Church in time for my wedding?
It depends on how soon your wedding is planned for. The journey towards receiving the sacraments of initiation/reception into the Catholic Church takes time; it is not just about gaining membership. However, if you have already been exposed to the Catholic Church and teachings and sincerely feel ready, you might like to make an appointment with your parish priest (or the priest who will be presiding at your wedding) or RCIA co-ordinator to discuss your concerns.
I am a baptised Catholic but have not received all the Sacraments of Initiation. Where do I fit?
The Catechumenate is a time of formal catechesis and immersion in the life of the church. It is helpful for you to join in with the catechumens as they are also being prepared to receive the sacraments of initiation.
I heard that Catholics cannot be divorced but I am divorced and would like to be a Catholic. Is this an issue?
It could be. Depending on individual circumstances (eg. Remarriage) an annulment (formal process of the church) of previous marriage may be necessary. It would be best to highlight this to your parish priest or RCIA co-ordinator as early as possible so that should there be the need for any formal processes (which take time to complete), it can be looked into straight away rather than at the last minute before baptism.
I understand that I will need a godparent. Who can I ask?
Along your RCIA journey, you will meet various Catholics and after getting to know them and seeing how they live as Catholics, you may find one or two people in particular who would be suitable and you could ask if they would like to be your godparent. If you already have someone in mind (eg. A Catholic relative or friend) that is ok too.
Is there monetary cost associated with RCIA?
You will not be charged for RCIA but some parishes that make use of printed publications may ask you to purchase these materials or ask for voluntary offerings to defray costs.
For more information on RCIA, please contact the Office for the New Evangelisation at Tel: 6858 3011.