RCIA – Frequently Asked Questions

What is RCIA?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a restoration of an ancient process for incorporating unbaptized persons into Jesus Christ through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. The process was restored after the Second Vatican Council, but did not become widely available in theUnited States until late in the 1980s. The local Catholic bishop determines how RCIA will be administered in the parishes under his care. For more information, check out the page entitled “What is RCIA?”

Who needs to attend RCIA?

People who have not received the sacrament of Baptism must attend RCIA for an extended period — ideally, a year, and preferably longer. The length of the process depends greatly on your readiness for the reception of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.

I’m already baptized in another denomination. Do I need to attend RCIA?

That depends. The Catholic Church doesn’t rebaptize people who are already baptized. If you are baptized but never received any instruction in the faith, you should receive instruction now and finish any sacraments you didn’t complete. We strongly recommend RCIA, even if you have been well instructed in another faith tradition, since you will need to learn how the beliefs and practices you grew up with differ from the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church. If you are a baptized and confirmed Catholic returning to the practice of the faith, you should talk to the pastor of the parish about how to proceed. We recommend that Catholics who have been away from the Church for many years (say, 10 or more) go through RCIA for the instruction.

I think I was baptized, but am not sure. What kind of information do I need to join RCIA?

If your church or congregation kept records, you’ll need to obtain a copy of your baptismal record — a certificate or a letter from the pastor there. Because locating records can be difficult or time-consuming, you should try to obtain these records as early in the process as possible. We must see these records to confirm your baptismal status before you’re received into the Church. If your church or congregation did not keep records or no longer exists, we can make other arrangements. Please contact a member of the Christ the King parish staff.

I’ve been divorced but am not remarried. Can I become Catholic?

Certainly. Unless you plan to marry, you do not need to obtain an annulment.

I’ve been divorced and am remarried, and my spouse is divorced and remarried. Can I become Catholic?

You and your current spouse need to begin the annulment process, and you should begin it as soon as possible even if your spouse is not considering entry into the Church. Please contact the parish staff for information on how to proceed. Of course, you can attend RCIA instructions while the annulment process is ongoing. But reception into the Church has to wait until the annulment process has been completed.

What’s the cutoff date for joining RCIA?

Currently, RCIA starts the first Sunday after Labor Day, and runs through the weekend of Pentecost (about 10 months later). Unbaptized persons who have had no previous religious instruction should join as early as possible, and are encouraged to take more than the 10-month period. If such people join late, they may be asked to wait until Easter of the following year.

For other people, the “cutoff date” depends on your faith level and readiness to receive the sacraments. Please talk to the RCIA director.

When do you meet?

RCIA at Christ the King meets on Sunday mornings. As a general practice, we attend the beginning of the8:45Mass together, and then are dismissed immediately after the homily.

How long do sessions last?

Sessions last from the time of dismissal after the homily at the8:45Mass until aboutnoon. There are breaks, and we provide refreshments.

How long does RCIA last?

Inquiry sessions (also known as Pre-Catechumenate) take place all year long Inquiry is designed to help you decide whether you want to continue, since RCIA is a serious commitment. For information on meeting times and dates, consult the parish bulletin.

RCIA proper begins at Christ the King in early September and meets weekly until Pentecost Sunday, about six weeks after Easter. Please note that Baptism and reception into the Church occur at Easter, but RCIA does not end until Pentecost.

The Neophyte year is a “soak-in” period for new Catholics. Sessions meet monthly for a complete year after your reception into the Church. This is a time for you to consolidate what you have learned, and to explore more about life in the Catholic Church. All new Catholics who complete RCIA are urged to attend Neophyte year sessions.

My schedule doesn’t permit me to attend your sessions. What should I do?

There are a couple of options. We may be able to arrange catechesis in a private setting with a qualified parishioner. Also, other parishes meet at different times, and you may prefer to attend one of them. We can provide information on when and where other parishes in the area offer instruction.

I heard I need a sponsor in order to become Catholic. What is that, and how do I get one?

A sponsor is a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church who accompanies you on your journey through RCIA. The sponsor has the job of helping you through the process, and of  verifying at the main rites that you are ready to take the next step. For baptism, the sponsor is called a “godparent,” with more serious responsibilities toward the catechumen being sponsored.

At Christ the King, sponsors are expected to attend half of the sessions with the candidate they are sponsoring. If you know someone who meets these criteria, you can simply ask them to sponsor you. If you don’t know anyone, the parish will provide a sponsor for you.

I know who I want my sponsor to be, but that person doesn’t live locally and can’t attend sessions. Can that person still be my sponsor?

Yes. However, we will provide someone locally to represent that sponsor, accompany you on an ongoing basis and instructions and the rites with you. At the Easter Vigil, the sponsor you prefer will then stand in the local person’s place as your official sponsor.

I have children. Do you provide child care?

Unfortunately, no. If you need child care, you should arrange your own or (if your children are well behaved) you can bring them to instructional sessions. If you and your spouse are attending RCIA together, you might try alternating attendance. If childcare is still a difficulty, please contact one of the RCIA team members.

How old should a person be to attend RCIA?

Technically, old enough to understand what is being taught. For children of catechetical age (ages 7 to 14), we can provide catechists for their grade level. Depending on their level of maturity and interests, older teens (age 15 or above) would join the adult group.

What texts do you use and how do I get them?

We use the Scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you have a Bible of your own, please bring it. We would like you to own a Catholic edition of Scripture, so we will provide it. We also provide the Catechism. Both are free of charge. The Compendium will be available for those who request it. We provide other materials — a syllabus of subjects covered, handouts, and occasionally printed materials, as well. We also provide a notebook for your handouts.