How do I become a member of the Catholic community?

Many different things can act as a catalyst, bringing people to the Catholic ‘door’ searching for answers into ones’ own spirituality or perhaps simple curiosity spurred on by something missing in ones’ life.

Life experiences may start the search but it is usually an encounter with a Catholic that brings someone to ask “What is Catholicism all about?”

This encounter is not an instantaneous thing. It is a progressive entry into a relationship and commitment to both God through Jesus Christ and God’s creation - a conversion to the living God, a commitment in faith to Christ as Lord which is progressive and cumulative leading to mission. Faith grows and matures over a period of time. A person engaged in this process is called a Catechumen.

There is never any pressure to continue at any point of the process. It is a time of prayer, sharing and reflection. It offers the opportunity to explore questions and concerns. Sessions are designed to provide accurate information with no strings attached so that myths and misconceptions can be laid to rest. Ordinarily the process takes at least one liturgical cycle, that is 12 months, culminating in reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. This length of time is not so that one can ‘learn all doctrine’ although doctrine is one part but to acquire values and a way of living. It takes 12 months to hear the teachings of Jesus Christ in one cycle of the liturgical calendar. This ‘becoming’ takes a lifetime.

The process, comprising periods and rituals, by which a person comes into the Catholic Church is called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).

This is not a private or individual experience as the whole community exercises its responsibility through various ministries: Bishop, priests, deacons, catechists, godparents and sponsors, and all members who pray and apprentice the newcomer in the catholic way of life. One is never alone but  supported by a loving, prayerful community.

If you are interested or curious, please contact the office of your local parish so that the community can share their faith with you and apprentice you in prayer and service, and the life and mission of the Catholic Church. You are welcome to begin attending Mass at your local Catholic Church whenever you wish, though you would not yet be able to receive Holy Communion.

You could speak with the priest after mass but they are often busy at this time and unable to take down details. Why not introduce yourself, saying you will ring during the week.

You will be appointed a sponsor

The sponsor’s role is that of a mentor. Unlike a catechist, a sponsor shares his or her own experience and beliefs in the course of companioning the Catechumen. Sponsors offer counsel, encouragement, guidance and honest feedback. The sponsor extends the spiritual care of the community beyond the weekly sessions by extending simple acts of hospitality – a coffee when the Catechumen can ask questions afraid to raise within the group, or an invitation to a social or event when they will introduce the Catechumen to various members of the community. The sponsor can offer spiritual support by praying for and with the Catechumen.

Diocesan Co-ordinator

Office for Worship - Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Institute for Mission, 1-5 Marion Street, Blacktown, NSW, 2148

Liturgy Educator: Sr Mary Louise Walsh ISSM
Ph:
02 9831 4911
E: mlwalsh@parra.catholic.org.au

Catholic Enquiry Centre

The Catholic Enquiry Centre is the national faith outreach of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. Its purpose is to reach out beyond the Church to offer an invitation to those who are not Catholic to learn about and understand all aspects of the Catholic religion.

Click here to find out more: http://www.catholicenquiry.com/