Frequently Asked Questions
What do I have to do to become Catholic?
The process of becoming Catholic, formally called the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA), happens within the community of faith. It involves prayer and worship, service, scripture, community, and of course learning about Catholic beliefs. It culminates with receiving the Sacraments of Initiation.
We meet together in small groups, but it's not a 'class.' It's a time to get your questions answered, to discover Christ on a more personal level, to grow in your relationship with God, and to be introduced to the Catholic way of life.
What are the sacraments of initiation?
Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. If someone comes to us un-baptied, all three sacraments are received together at the Easter Vigil after an appropriate time of preparation, most likely about 1 year.
I have children who aren’t baptized. What about them?
Children and youth over the age of 7 go through OCIA as well, in a variation of the process designed for them and their families. It too has the elements of prayer and worship, service, Word, and community, and learning about our faith. Since children don't develop in a vacuum, parents actively participate with their children.
I was baptized in a Protestant church. Would I be baptized again?
Not if you were baptized with water in the Trinitarian formula ("in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit"). You'd be received into full communion with the Catholic Church in the Rite of Reception, at which time you'll make a simple profession of faith and receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. This would probably take place at a weekend Mass, after an appropriate period of preparation.
Why is the process different for those who are baptized?
The Church reminds us to always recognize the grace of the sacrament of Baptism, and to respect how God has already been actively involved in a person's life. So we acknowledge the faith with which you come to us and the grace of God already at work in you.
How long does it take to become Catholic?
OCIA isn't a course of study from which you graduate, but it's a gradual process of being formed in faith.
The time of preparation is crafted to meet the needs of the individual, and each person's faith journey is unique. If someone is a baptized Christian and has been practicing their faith, the process is shorter and may only take a month or two. If someone is baptized but has never practiced the Christian faith, they may join the un-baptized in a longer period of preparation, sometimes nearly one year.
We try to meet you where you are, listen to you, and discern with you what is right for you. We want to offer you the opportunity to fully discern God's call at this important time in your life.
Is there a fee?
There is no fee; we provide you with the necessary materials, including a Bible. All that is required is a sincere and searching heart, and that you commit to attend each session, spend some time during the week reflecting on Scripture, and participate in Mass each Sunday.
I’m not ready to make a commitment to becoming Catholic yet – I have too many questions. Is there a place for me?
Most definitely. Although some may have already made a decision to become Catholic, many others come searching. We will be with you wherever you are on this journey of faith. There will be time for questions asked and answered, for grappling with doubts, and a chance to reflect on where God is calling you on this journey.
There are no strings attached, and the only requirement is a searching and sincere heart.
Even in the last stages of the OCIA process, there are continued opportunities to discern if this is right for you.
What are the stages of the OCIA process?
The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults/OCIA is a gradually deepening process of exploring God's call to a life of faith, coming to know the person of Jesus, and becoming one with his community of believers, the Church. This process unfolds in stages.
SEEKERS GROUP - Formally called "inquiry," this initial stage is a "getting to know you" time. Seekers ask questions and begin to take a closer look at their relationship with God. Depending on the individual, this stage may last for several months or longer. When you decide you are ready, you move forward to the ---
CATECHUMENATE - This second stage begins with the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Welcoming. During this stage, the unbaptized are formally called catechumens; those already baptized are called candidates. It is a time of catechesis, of learning more intentionally about what the Church teaches and believes. It is also a time to discover how to live as a Catholic Christian, supported by the parish community.
This period ends when the catechumens and candidates express their desire to receive the Sacraments of Initiation and the parish community acknowledges their readiness. This usually coincides with the beginning of Lent, when the Rite of Election is celebrated with the local bishop at the cathedral and the catechumens become the "elect."
PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT - This third stage coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. It is a period of intense preparation and prayer, including the celebration of the three scrutinies in which the elect search their hearts and souls so they may more fully receive the grace of the Sacraments. For the elect, this period ends with the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Candidates may be received into full communion with the Church at the Vigil, or at other times during the year.
MYSTAGOGY - This fourth stage is the period of post-baptismal catechesis. The newly initiated explore their experience through participation with all the faithful at Sunday Eucharist, participation in the faith community, and appropriate catechesis. They reflect on how they are called to best exercise the gifts of new life. The period formally lasts through the Easter season.
I’ve been through a divorce. Will this affect my becoming Catholic?
If you've been divorced and are not remarried, this will not stand in your way.
If you are remarried or engaged, there's a process by which the Catholic Church may grant an annulment of your previous marriage, and your current marriage can be revalidated by the Church. We'll talk about this early on and do all we can to help you with this, but you may not become Catholic until it is resolved.
What if I get started and decide this isn’t for me?
There is never an obligation for you to become Catholic. Anyone seeking to explore the Catholic faith is welcome to join us. All are encouraged to ask questions, to think for themselves, and to take all the time they need to make their decisions.
Faith in God and the decision to become a member of the Catholic Church are significant and personal choices that must be made in the atmosphere of complete freedom. We will do our best to help you understand what it means to be a Catholic Christian and to support you on your faith journey. But we sincerely believe that the decision is yours to make without pressure from us.
How do I know I’m ready to begin?
Well, that's really up to you! We are ready to meet you where you are whenever you come to our door. Here are some things to consider in making your decision to get started:
- Do I want a more dynamic spiritual life and deeper relationship with God?
- Do I have questions about the meaning of life, good and evil, or who God really is that I can't seem to answer for myself?
- Has my past religious experience been scattered or somehow unfulfilling?
- Am I willing to question, read, and open myself to new possibilities?
- Can I let go of preconceptions and listen to another's story?
- Do I want to share something deeper with my Catholic spouse, children, or friends?
- Do I find comfort and hope in the Catholic liturgy and in the company of Catholic people?
I’m ready to begin. What do I do?
Contact Father Andrew at 410-974-4366 to set up an informal interview. In this interview, he'll talk to you about your religious background, address your concerns, and answer your questions about the process of becoming Catholic. You can start this next part of your faith journey now.