FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE RCIA
Becoming a Catholic is not simply joining a club; it is a total change of attitude, perception and intent in life.
I HAVE A FRIEND WHO WANTS TO BECOME CATHOLIC, WHAT SHALL I TELL HER or HIM?
The normal process for a person wishing to become Catholic is through the Rite of Christian Initiation
of Adults (RCIA) process. This is our way of assisting people to grow in faith through prayer and action,
and to receive instruction in the beliefs of our church as well as having them involved in liturgical events.
You should invite her to join an RCIA group in her parish or here at Saint Patrick’s.
CAN ANYONE JOIN THE RCIA? WHO IS IT FOR?
The RCIA is for three groups of people:
It is for anyone who wishes to explore the teachings of the Catholic Church and find out why we do what we do.
It is for people who have never been baptised or for those who have been baptised in another Christian tradition.
Finally, the RCIA process is open to Catholics who have been baptized but who have not received the Sacraments of Confirmation and/or Holy Eucharist.
All participants will find the opportunity to question, to think for themselves, and to take all the time they need to make a decision about joining the Church. As participants go through the different stages they will deepen their relationship with Christ and become more integrated into the worshipping community of Saint Patrick’s.
If I JOIN THE RCIA, AM I OBLIGED TO BECOME A CATHOLIC?
There is no obligation for those who enter the RCIA process to become members of the Catholic Church. The RCIA process allows you to explore, to clarify your intentions and to continue discerning God's call. Participants are encouraged to ask questions, discuss and debate the material. Everything shared during the sessions will be treated with confidentiality and respect. Faith in God and the decisions 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 gift of conscience and
free will without feeling any pressure from us.
IF A PERSON IS BAPTISED WILL THEY NEED TO BE BAPTISED AGAIN IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
It depends whether or not the baptism is valid. The Catholic Church does not recognise the 'baptism' ceremonies of some churches. However, once a person has been validly baptized, that person has a Christian identity that can never be taken away. The Sacrament of Baptism joins the person baptized to Jesus Christ in a unique and irrevocable way so Baptism need not be and cannot be received more than once.
IS THIS THE CASE FOR BAPTISM IN EVERY DENOMINATION?
The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of many baptisms that take place in other Christian denominations. If one has been baptized with water (by immersion or pouring), with the Trinitarian formula ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"), by someone intending to confer the Sacrament (believing in the effects of the sacramental action), then that person is validly baptized and is never re-baptized.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A CATHOLIC?
It is difficult to give a definite time frame in answer to this question. Every person is so different. Some may come to the process with significant background knowledge, some may have no knowledge at all. Some may be aware from the beginning that they wish to go ahead with the Sacraments of Initiation, some may be just exploring. Some people may stay for a time and leave the process, some may return again in the following years, some may never return. Having said all that, there is a general (not rigid) time frame. The process usually takes about nine months, from August until one month after the Easter Ceremonies.
(Note: Easter is a movable feast)
The goal is conversion through a change of heart and a deepening of your relationship with Christ.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
What is needed most of all is a sincere desire to grow, learn, and develop an ever deeper relationship with God. Therefore,
you are expected to attend all sessions of the process on Wednesday evenings. This also implies being involved in discussion and completing some readings outside of the classes. At each meeting there will be a topic for general discussion by the candidates, sponsors and the whole group;
you are expected to attend Sunday Mass weekly;
you are expected to attend the special Rites that occur on Sundays at Saint Patrick’s Church;
the Rite of Election brings all the catechumens and candidates from around the diocese together at Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney and you are expected to attend this Rite of Election; and,
as well as all of the above there is an expectation that you attend the Retreat Day prior to Easter Week.
I AM A SHY PERSON, WILL I FEEL COMFORTABLE WITH THIS PROCESS AND WITH THE GROUP?
RCIA candidates come from all walks of life, all backgrounds and all ages. I feel confident in saying that you will quickly feel part of the group and that you will be able to form a strong bond with your sponsor.
DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR PARTICIPATING IN RCIA PROCESS?
No. We supply everything you need for the course.
We ask only that you bring a sincere desire to grow and to learn.
If you continue, you will be asked to purchase a baptismal candle.
You will also need a sash for baptism which you can either purchase
or make yourself. We can help you with creating your own sash.
WHAT IS A SPONSOR?
A sponsor is an active member of the Catholic Church who is willing to be a friend and guide and to accompany you on the RCIA journey.
If there is someone you know who is a practising Catholic who would be willing to be your sponsor, and you are more comfortable with that person, you may wish to invite him or her to be your sponsor. Alternatively, we will work with you to choose a sponsor from our faith community.
CAN MY SPOUSE OR FIANCE BE MY SPONSOR?
Ideally, this is not favoured. The concern is that they may pressure you, either to begin the journey or to commit to the Catholic faith. As well as this, the intensity of that relationship makes it difficult to relate to the other person as a sponsor or candidate. However, there may be circumstances in which it is acceptable.
Whomever you choose, the sponsor must be a practising Catholic who is willing to accompany you on your faith journey, not only each week during the RCIA process, but throughout your life.
WHAT DO WE DO IN THE RCIA IN SAINT PATRICK'S PARISH?
The RCIA process is one of learning what it is to believe and to live as a Catholic through prayer and study within the
context of the Catholic community. This process begins annually in the first week of August.
The two main components of RCIA are
- regular participation at Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, either at Saint Patrick’s or in your local parish.
- attendance at the curse, which is a comprehensive presentation of the Catholic Faith using Sacred Scripture.
The course has three parts: Liturgical, Pastoral and Catechetical. The Course takes place weekly on Wednesday evenings from 6.30 pm until
8.00 pm. In addition, there are several special meetings during the RCIA process, and these usually occur on Sundays.