How to Become a Catholic
The Church uses the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to prepare, accept and welcome individuals desiring to become full members of the Roman Catholic faith community. RICA as it is popularly known, is the process which an unbaptized adult, a baptized but uncatechized adult, or any adult baptized in another Christian tradition is received into the Catholic Church.
At Saints Felicitas & Perpetua, our Class for Becoming Catholic (RICA) meets Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to 10:15 am in the Parish Center. (We will resume in September - see attached schedule.) To learn more about the process, whether you are interested in becoming Catholic or completing your Sacraments of Initiation as a Catholic, please call Fr. Paul in the Rectory Office (626-796-0432). The Schedule for the year is available below.
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
Full membership into the Catholic Church through receipt of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
The process of initiation into the Catholic community is a process of conversion. It is modeled on the process that historical documents tell us was the practice of the Church for its first five centuries. It is modeled on a journey. This journey is divided into four continuous phases that parallel a participant’s progress in the development of his/her faith. Certain important points on that journey are milestones celebrated publicly by the whole parish community.
Pre-CATECHUMENATE – Period of Inquiry
This initial phase, similar to the dating stage in a marriage relationship, is a time of getting to know about the Church in a social and questioning way. It is marked by complete freedom -– a "just looking” approach. During this phase, the inquirer is able to take a good look at how the parish community lives and shares its faith with one another. If a person becomes ready to make an initial commitment to Jesus and the Church, they celebrate the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate at a Sunday Mass. At that celebration, the catechumen (not baptized) or candidate (already baptized) is joined by a sponsor for the remainder of the faith journey. A sponsor can be any fully initiated (one who has been baptized and received both Conformation and Eucharist) and practicing member of the faith community who is over 16 years of age. The time spent in the inquiry stage depends on each individual, anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
CATECHUMENATE – Period of Learning
The second phase is called the Catechumenate. Prior to this phase, a person called a “sponsor” joins the “catechumen”. A sponsor is an active member of the parish faith community. As a representative of the parish, the sponsor will make this journey of faith with the catecuhumen. During this phase, catechumens receive a more formalized instruction in the faith as well as joining with the community in prayer and worship. There will be various public prayers and blessings marking stages of growth within this period. If the person is ready “to name the date”, this is celebrated with the Rite of Election with the Pastor and parish community on the First Sunday of Lent. This begins the period of final preparation for the Elect (previously called catechumens) and candidates. For the elect and candidates, it is a time of prayer and final preparation more than a time of learning.
LENT – Period of Purification and Enlightenment
The six Sundays of Lent are seen as a period of immediate preparation and purification. During this time, the catechumens enter into sort of a “40-day retreat”. The Sundays are marked with special ceremonies and rituals that draw the focus of the entire parish community to the spirit of the Lenten season – renewal! Special Prayers of Blessing (the "Scrutinies") are celebrated at the Sunday Mass on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent.
EASTER VIGIL – Ceremonies of Initiation
The high point of the process, and of the entire church year, comes with the Easter Vigil when the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are received. In ceremonies that can be traced back to the year 200 A.D., the entire community renews baptismal promises as the elect and candidates make their profession of faith. Following Baptism of the elect, all those baptized in another Christian tradition make their profession of faith in the Catholic faith and are received into the Roman Catholic Church. The Rite of Reception is followed by Confirmation and then First Communion for all of the newly initiated (now called neophytes).
MYSTAGOGY -- Period of Post-Initiation
This final phase of the faith journey is called “mystagogia”, from the word mystery. For the weeks between Easter and Pentecost, we meet to look more deeply into the meaning of the Easter/Baptismal experience and to more intently put faith into practice. In reality, this phase of the process continues for the remainder of our lives. We are constantly being drawn toward closer relationships and deeper understandings of the mysteries of our faith.