FAQs (Church Community)

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Frequently Asked Questions
About  the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

What is RCIA?

Who can participate?

Am I obligated to become Catholic?

What can I expect of the process?

Why does it require so much time?

What is expected of me?

How long do the sessions last?

What should I bring to the sessions?

Does the RCIA cost anything?

What is a sponsor?

What does a sponsor do?

Is RCIA offered elsewhere?

What if I am not sure about becoming Catholic?

I am engaged to a Catholic; do I have to go through RCIA?

Do I need an annulment before I can join the Church?

I’ve been confirmed in another faith; do I still have to go through the RCIA?

What is RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which adults (or children of catechetical age) are initiated into the Catholic Church. This process is the work of the entire parish and in perhaps a more special way those who are able to lead discussions, act as sponsors, present topics, pray for those on the journey, sew, bake, and other activities related to the entire process. It is not a program in Catholicism. The RCIA restores the ancient practice of the Church as the normal way to prepare adults for baptism.

Who can participate?

  •  The RCIA process is open to those individuals who have been baptized in another Christian denomination and who wish to explore membership in the Catholic Church.
  • The RCIA process is open to all unbaptized individuals (adults and children) who express a desire to learn about Catholic practices and beliefs.
  • The RCIA process is open to those adults (or children of catechetical age) who have been baptized Catholic as babies but who have not completed the Sacraments of Initiation.

Am I obligated to become Catholic?
There is no obligation on participants in this process to become members of the Catholic Church. Participants in RCIA are encouraged to ask questions. They are also encouraged to explore their intentions and continue to discern God’s call whether or not that call includes becoming Catholic.

What can I expect of the process?
Participants who go through the RCIA can expect to develop a deeper and stronger relationship with God. They will also gain a much broader perspective on and understanding of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Conversion is a process. Individuals will study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.  Initiation is into the parish community so individuals also receive a sense of community, friendship, and acceptance.

Why does it require so much time?
The RCIA is not a program. At St. Francis of Assisi, we believe that RCIA is a process of preparation for the lifetime commitment that comes with reception into the Church. Consequently, some people will need more time than others to prepare for this. The unbaptized (catechumens) and the uncatechized (candidates) adults should experience as close to one full Catholic liturgical year as they can in order to make a fully informed decision about becoming Catholic.

What is expected of me?
All that is expected is a desire to learn about the Catholic faith and grow. Attendance is expected at the 2-hour weekly sessions and during Lent, twice weekly—one of those days being Sunday for about ½ hour. The weekday sessions are the times to raise any and all of your questions about the faith. Attendance is expected at the Rite of Acceptance – typically mid November, the Rite of Election - typically the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday, and at the Easter Vigil.

Each member of the RCIA is encouraged to spend some time in prayer and to read materials handed out at each session. The Catholic Church is very rich in her teachings and practices and it takes a lifetime to continually conform yourself to God.

How long do the sessions last?
Weekly sessions are from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm on Tuesday evenings or 10:00 am to 12:00 noon on Friday mornings. The Sunday sessions during Lent are very brief – approximately ½ hour until the end of Mass – for breaking open the Word.

What should I bring to the sessions?
All required materials will be provided. You will be given a bible at the Rite of Acceptance.

Does RCIA cost anything?
There is no charge for participation in the RCIA process.

What is a sponsor?
A sponsor is a practicing Catholic, at least 16 years old, who acts as a spiritual companion and support as you make this journey, and serves as a mentor in the Catholic life.

What does a sponsor do?
Sponsors actively participate in the weekly sessions. They also stay in regular contact with the participant talking about the ongoing process of faith development. Sponsors celebrate the rites and rituals with the participant and of course attend the Easter Vigil where the participant is initiated into the Catholic Church. The sponsor’s promise is to listen and to assist participants with determining where God is leading them without pushing them in any one direction.

Is RCIA offered elsewhere?
Yes. Pretty much all parishes have some type of RCIA formation process.

What if I am not sure about becoming Catholic?
RCIA is a time for exploring the many different aspects of the Catholic Church. People can ask as many questions as they need or want, especially areas where they do not feel comfortable. During this process, individuals are given time and space to question and think through for themselves whether or not this is a good fit for them. There is no obligation. Even Catholics do not know everything about the Church. Each individual travels this lifetime journey at his or her own pace.

I am engaged to a Catholic; do I have to go through RCIA?
No. You do not have to become Catholic to be married in the Catholic Church. The decision to join RCIA is a personal one you should make for yourself and not feel as if you have to become Catholic.

Do I need an annulment before I can join the Church?
No, you do not necessarily need an annulment to join the Church. The only time an annulment would become necessary is if you are already in a second marriage or you plan to remarry in the Catholic Church.

Each situation is different so it is difficult to give even an approximate timeline for receiving the annulment. You would begin by first meeting with the priest and starting the paperwork. The forms are sent to the tribunal in Lansing where a decision is made about your particular case. It is advisable if you are also planning to get married to begin the annulment process as soon as possible to avoid the frustration of wedding preparation combined with the annulment process.

I’ve been confirmed in another faith; do I still have to go through the RCIA?
People who have been baptized in another denomination are not re-baptized. However, people who have been confirmed in another faith do make a profession of faith, are confirmed as Catholics, and receive Communion as Catholics at the Easter Vigil. Proper formation is necessary for you to understand what it is you are professing and receiving.

If you would like to be contacted or have any questions or comments fill out the RCIA Inquiry Contact Form below. For more information, contact Marty Lucas at mlucas@stfrancisa2.org.

Forms and Resources
Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Inquiry Contact Form 

Sponsor Information