Have you ever thought about becoming Catholic?
Do you want to know more about what Catholics believe and why?
What is RCIA?
RCIA stands for “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.” It is the process by which adults (as well as older children and teens) become Catholic.
Here at St. Peter Cathedral, sessions run from mid-September until a few weeks after Easter. We meet on Thursday evenings from 7:30pm to 9:00pm. The first session for 2015 is Thursday, September 17th. Those who decide to complete RCIA and become Catholic will typically receive the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass (the night before Easter), which completes their initiation into the Church. Then we continue to meet as a group for several weeks after Easter, concluding with a final dinner together. This is not a “cookie-cutter” process however. Many people take more than one year to receive the Sacraments. It all depends on an individual’s situation.
RCIA includes of people from all walks of life - young, old, different backgrounds and jobs. The number of participants varies from year to year. Some are absolutely certain they are ready to join the Church, others are somewhat interested but still have yet to make a final decision. Some have no religious background at all, some have been members of a Protestant Christian community in the past, some were baptized Catholic as infants and never practiced the faith or learned much about it, and are now coming back to the Church as adults. They are drawn to the Church for a variety of reasons.
What happens during the sessions?
Over the course of the year the sessions provide a broad overview of the beliefs of Catholicism and Catholic practices, including prayer and the Seven Sacraments. Sessions are led by a team which includes the two priests from the parish and a lay leader. (“Lay” means a person who is not a priest, deacon, or religious person like a sister or nun.)
Can I attend Mass if I am not Catholic?
Absolutely. The Mass is the center of Catholic life and in fact you must attend Mass if you are part of RCIA and preparing to become Catholic. You should not receive communion however- see below. If you are unsure of what is happening and what to do during Mass, the leaders of the RCIA group are happy to help and explain.
Is it okay for me to receive communion if I am not yet Catholic?
Unfortunately no. This is due to the historical divisions that have divided Christians for many centuries. Catholics believe that the Eucharist is actually, truly Jesus present in the Eucharist- body, blood, soul, and divinity. It is NOT “just a symbol.” Because of the centrality of the belief of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of unity of faith, life, and worship, non-Catholics are not normally admitted to communion.
Furthermore, even Catholics do not receive communion in certain circumstances, for example, if they are too young to understand, if they have eaten within an hour of Mass, or if they are guilty of serious sin. If you are not receiving communion, you may choose to remain in your seat or you may come forward to receive a blessing. Just cross your arms over your chest and get in the line with the priest or deacon (the men wearing vestments.) If you watch you will see many people doing this. You will receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the 1st time at the Easter Vigil Mass.
Does joining RCIA means that I have to become Catholic? I am still exploring.
We welcome all those who are interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, even if they have not made a final decision. There are times during the process when it is up to you to decide whether you are ready to make a full commitment to the Catholic faith.
How do I get started?
Contact the parish office to speak either with a priest, 906-226-6548.
For more details, click here.