The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

How Does One Become Catholic?

New members are welcomed into the Catholic Church through a process of education, faith sharing, and rituals known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This process includes several stages marked by prayer, study and discussion. 

The RCIA process is structured over a period of learning and a series of ceremonial steps. One may take as much time as he or she needs before becoming ready for full initiation through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.  Initiation within the Church is a journey of conversion that is gradual and ongoing and suited to individual needs. It is a process rather than an educational program.

Who Can Begin the RCIA Journey?

All people who are open to learning more about the Catholic Church are welcome to begin the RCIA process. All that is truly required is a sincere desire to learn, to grow and to develop one’s relationship with God. The RCIA process is generally suited for the following groups of people, though everyone is welcome and invited to participate:

  • Unbaptized Persons who have never been baptized are weclome to join the RCIA journey. These people, called Catechumens, will prepare to receive Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion during the Easter Vigil Mass. This also includes people entering the Catholic Church from Judaism, Islam, other religions, no religous background at all, or a Protestant denomination where they have not received Baptism.
  • Baptized in Another Christian Church Those who were baptized in another Christian denomination and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church are welcome to join the RCIA journey. These people, called Candidates, will prepare to receive Confrimation and First Holy Communion on Divine Mercy Sunday.
  • Baptized Catholic Adults who were baptized as infants but did not complete the Sacraments of Initiation are welcome to join the RCIA journey. These people, also called Candidates, will prepare to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and, if they have not already done so, First Penance and First Holy Communion.

In the case of children who have reached the age of reason (age 7), the pastor of the Cathedral should be consulted for information about Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation.

The Steps of the Journey

The Rite of Christian Initiation is based on the principle that the process of conversion proceeds gradually in stages. Progress from one stage to the next is marked by a liturgical celebration in the midst of the parish community. There are four periods of formation which are marked by rituals that celebrate what has been completed and that call a person into the next phase.

  • Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate
    The first stage is called the period of inquiry (or the precatechumenate). This is when the individual first expresses an interest in becoming Catholic. There is no liturgical rite to mark the beginning of this stage nor a time limit or constraints placed on this period. This stage is completed when the inquirer feels ready to move forward or decides against continuing in this direction. During this period of time individuals, who are called inquirers, are introduced to the person, the life, and the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is a time for building communion and for listening, learning, sharing, and asking questions. It is a time of initial conversation and conversion. 
  • Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and Welcoming of Candidates
    Once the inquirer decides to continue the journey, he or she seeks acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.  This is a liturgical rite in which the inquirer states publicly in the midst of the parish community that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Church.  The Church, through the local parish community, affirms this desire by accepting the person and his or her intention to follow God’s call.  The Catechumen is now affirmed by the local community and strengthened to continue the journey. For candidates who have already been baptized and are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, this step is called the Rite of Welcoming the Candidate.
  • Period of the Catechumenate
    The second stage is called the Catechumenate. Catechumens learn about Catholic teachings and values, what it means to be a member of the Catholic community, prayer and worship, and are also introduced to the apostolic life.  This is also a time for the catechumen or candidate to learn how to live as a Catholic Christian through their faith journey and the support of their 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. The Catechumen then becomes an “Elect,” which is marked by the Rite of Election during the next stage.
  • Rite of Election
    The Rite of Election coincides with the beginning of Lent and is celebrated by the Bishop. The Rite includes the official enrollment of names of all those seeking baptism at the Easter Vigil. At this Rite the Catechumens publicly request Baptism and declare their desire to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church. Parishes normally celebrate the Rite of Sending prior to the Rite of Election. Godparents and catechists testify to the readiness of the catechumens for the Sacraments of Initiation. Candidates are also invited to participate in the Rite.
  • Period of Purification and Enlightenment
    The third stage is the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. It coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. It is a time of reflection, prayer, and spiritual direction. This period is intended to enlighten the minds and hearts of the Elect with a deeper personal knowledge of Christ.  During this time, the Elect and the Candidates enter into a period of spiritual preparation and prayer which includes the three public celebrations of the Scrutinies (for the Catechumens only) and is marked by the presentations of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. The Rite of Election (for Catechumens) and the Call to Continuing Conversion (for Candidates) are celebrated at the beginning of this stage. This period ends with the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. 
  • Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
    At the Easter Vigil, the Catechumen receives the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church and will continue to live out his or her response to God as a member of this faith community. The Candidates (both Protestant and Catholic) will receive the Sacraments of Initation that they need on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Companions for the Journey

Jesus recognized the importance of community and teamwork in spreading the Gospel, as displayed by the fact that He called a group of Apostles and often sent His Apostles out two by two. The Church recognizes the importance of support as one progresses through the RCIA process. RCIA Participants journey, not alone, but together with other adults who are learning about the Catholic Church, and also with a team of dedicated people from the parish community who meets with the group regularly to offer assistance and support. The Church also gives the inquiring person a sponsor who will share the journey and accompany you at RCIA sessions and other special events. They are truly companions for the journey of faith and walk with each candidate through each step of the process.  The sponsor also connects the candidate to the local parish community.  Finally, since the RCIA process takes place within a parish community, the prayers from this community are essential for the journey.  Moreover, the prayers of the universal Church are with each candidate, providing spiritual support for the journey and connection to the Church community.

Beginning the Journey

For many people interested in becoming Catholic or entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, the process can be somewhat confusing or intimidating.  After all, this is a major decision in one’s life.  The decision to join the Church is exciting and will lead to a deepening of personal faith and relationship to God, others, and self.  No matter what brought you here, the fact that you are interested in taking the next step shows your openness to God and God’s call in your life.  Many people have come through the RCIA program and are living lives of service, faith and love.  Perhaps you are asking where to begin the journey.  The answer is that you have already begun!  Welcome to your faith journey!   

Registration Fee

The registration fee for the RCIA program is $35. This fee covers the cost of the text book, binder with useful information and a Bible.

Register for RCIA

Click here to sign up!

Our 2022-23 RCIA class at the Rite of Election

Classes are held Wednesday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm in the Youth Room. Join us!

Faith Formation Office

1621 Dilworth Road East
Charlotte, NC  28203
Phone: (704) 334-2283 ext 432
Fax: (704) 377-6403
For more information about Faith Formation contact Mr. James Sarkis

Getting Started

CLICK HERE to contact us about joining our RCIA program! We will get in touch with you.

Important Documents

CLICK HERE for the 2022-23 RCIA schedule.

CLICK HERE for the RCIA Inquiry Form to be filled out and submitted to the parish office prior to beginning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Can Begin the RCIA Journey?

Anyone who is over the age of eighteen and interested in learning more about the Catholic Church can join the RCIA journey. All that is truly required is a sincere desire to learn, to grow, and to develop one’s relationship with God. Those under 18 are welcome to join our RCIC program for children and teens.
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When does the RCIA Journey Begin?

Our 2023-24 RCIA program is expected to begin Wednesday, September 6th and run through Easter.

When does RCIA Meet?

RCIA meets weekly on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 pm starting September 6th. Attendance at weekly classes is important for one’s spiritual formation.

What if I’m baptized Catholic and need to be Confirmed?

The RCIA journey is available for adults who were baptized Catholics as infants but haven’t received further religious instruction and need to complete the Sacraments of Initiation - namely Confirmation and/or First Holy Communion.

How do I sign-up for RCIA?

Please fill out the form under the "Getting Started" header and let us know why you're interested in becoming Catholic or completing the sacraments!
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RCIA Schedule


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