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How do I Become a Catholic?

God calls to everyone. The response to that call will have different expressions for different people because of our individual natures. There are a number of doors to seeking membership of the Catholic community. They might include:

  • Religious: a search for the holy
  • Christian: a desire to form a relationship with Jesus Christ
  • Ecclesial: a yearn to be part of a particular community
  • Moral: a turn towards a particular values base
  • Intellectual: a thought process towards truth

Therefore, an individual may find themselves seeking to explore membership through one or more of these doors.

Becoming a Catholic, while a weighty decision, is easy in practice. Although it does take time, it’s easy to take your first step. The church is waiting to welcome you and help you along your journey. The first stage to becoming Catholic is getting to know a local community. You may have Catholic friends whom you join when they attend Mass and parish gatherings, or you might want to contact people locally. The Auckland Catholic Diocese website has a list of parishes and their contacts. When you are ready to move into discernment you will need to contact them and become part of the RCIA process.

What is RCIA?

RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is the process by which adults are welcomed into membership of the Roman Catholic Church.

RCIA is:

  • A journey of faith. There are a number of different phases, with no specific timeframes.
  • A time of discovering about being a son or daughter of God who is loving and gracious.
  • An opportunity to reflect on a personal relationship with God and how God calls everyone.
  • A period if getting to know Jesus Christ (more) deeply.

Stages to Becoming Catholic

The process of becoming Catholic is called RCIA.  During this pilgrimage seekers will travel through the following four stages of initiation. The following is for those who are not Baptised.  The process is adapted for children and those already Baptised Christians.

Enquiry Period

This is the first stage of the journey. During this period you will be invited to a series of meetings at which you can ask any question you may have, get acquainted with some basic beliefs of the Catholic Church and begin to experience its life of faith. This time of journeying concludes with the Rite of Acceptance.

At the end of this period and if you decide to go on with the next stage, there will be a celebration to welcome you.

Catechumenate Period

This is the longest part of the journey, it may last a couple of years.  It is a period of formation in faith, learning to pray, read the Bible, worship and serve together with the rest of the community and most of all reflect on your experience of growth in faith. This period is closed off six weeks before Easter with another celebration, the Rite of Election.  This occurs with the Bishop at the Cathedral on the First Sunday of Lent.

At a celebration concluding this period you will be named as the ‘elect’ or ‘the chosen ones.’ It is usually presided over by the Bishop of the Diocese and you could expect to be introduced to him.

Period of Purification

Lent is a period of six weeks immediately before Easter. During this period the Church prepares spiritually for the great feast of Easter. If you are continuing on your journey into the Catholic Church you too will experience a more intense period of preparation culminating in the celebrations of Easter, it is like an extended Retreat time.

During the Easter Vigil the most important liturgy of the year, those to be Baptised are welcomed into the Church through the Sacraments of Initiation; Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist.

Post Baptismal Period or Mystagogia

This period is a little like the honeymoon of a newly married couple. This is a time for reflecting on your new faith, but now with the benefit of inside experience. It is also a time for firming up this new faith and taking you place in the Church as a full member.

For More Information contact your nearest Catholic Parish which you can find on the diocesan website.