If you are interested in becoming a Catholic or already are a Catholic and wish to become reaquainted with your faith, the sections below will hopefully answer some of your questions. Also please come to one of the parish “Come and See” classes. For more details, see our Parish Groups page.
The following questions and answers are derived from the Catholic Truth Society CTS Essentials pamphlet “How to become a Catholic” (All rights reserved copyright 2004).
A big thank you to the CTS. Details of their website can be found on our Links page.
Thinking of becoming a Catholic ?
People from all kinds of background, and for all kinds of different reasons, express an interest in knowing more about the Catholic faith. You may be engaged, or married, to a Catholic; you may belong to another Christian denomination, perhaps baptised or not, or a member of another religion, or none. You may be searching for the answers to some sincere and important questions about life.
What does the Catholic Church claim to be ?
The Roman Catholic Church claims that it is the visible community established by Jesus Christ, and built up by his first diciples, the apostles – we can trace our life back 2000 years to his life on earth and to his teachings and ministry. It is God’s will that all men and women should encounter the Christian message, so that the Catholic Church is at heart a missionary organisation, seeking all the the time to encourage people to become Catholics. So, in the first place, Catholics will welcome that you are considering this step in your life by reading this.
How do I get started ?
Personal contact is often better that reading a pamphlet or website, so the first thing you could do is speak to a priest at a Catholic Church near where you live or work. He will be able to talk to you about what is involved in becoming a Catholic; he can talk with you about your life and background, and what it is that has prompted you to make this enquiry.
How do I find some basic information ?
If you do not know where the nearest church is, you’ll find that Catholic churches are usually listed in telephone directories. If you can find a church near where you live or work, the best way to be introduced to the Church’s life is to go to Mass on a Sunday or a weekday and look at parish newsletters or magazines so you can see something of local Catholic life; there should also be copies of Catholic newspapers which tell you of the life of the Church in the rest of the country and the world.
How does the learning process begin … and end ?
Sometimes the priest will offer to help you consider becoming a Catholic by individual sessions with him, so that you can learn about what the Catholic Church teaches and discern God’s will for you. This is an important time and it doesn’t pay to rush, no matter how enthusiastic you may feel. Alternatively, instruction may be given in groups, with other people in the same position as yourself, which might be called by various names – RCIA ( which stands for theRite of Christian Initiation of Adults ), Journey of Faith, Come and See, or something similar. These groups meet over a period of months. Usually adults who wish to become Catholics do so at Easter, during the late night Mass on the Saturday evening before Easter, the Easter Vigil – the greatest feast in the Catholic calendar!
What other things will I need to do – to be baptised ?
If you have never been baptised, that is ‘christened’, then you will be baptised as an adult and confirmed. If you have been baptised in another Christian church whose rite of baptism the Catholic Church recognises as valid the Catholic community accepts that baptism, and welcomes your experience of Christianity in that church. You cannot be baptised again, so you you are confirmed and ‘received into full communion’ with the Catholic Church, often with others who have to be baptised as adults. In some parishes those who need to be baptised are prepared seperately from those who have already been baptised in another church; in others everybody is prepared together.
Catholics, normally as children and as they grow up, receive several sacraments: Baptism (becoming members of God’s Church); the Eucharist (receiving Our Lord as the Bread of Life); Reconciliation, also known as Confession (receiving the strength to be soldiers for Christ). Depending on your present situation (baptised or un-baptised etc), you may be introduced to all of these along this new journey.
Is there anyone helping me through all this ?
Usually the whole church community in the parish is invited to support you and an individual layperson will help you as a godparent or sponsor during your preparation period. Usually those who are being prepared are supported in special ceremonies in the months leading up to their becoming Catholics in the local church and the cathedral: this emphasises that when you become a Catholic you are not simply taking an individual step in your life – you are also becomeing part of the wider family of the Catholic Church in the local area throughout the world.
What if I’m not sure about something .. or everything ?
In these settings, either individually with a priest or in a group, you will have a chance to ask questions about what you are being taught, to share any doubts or problems you may have, and to talk about your own life history and the influences in your life. People will also be able to suggest things you can read: you should certainly get hold of a good modern Catholic edition of the Bible, such as the New Jerusalem Bible, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains all the main Catholic beliefs in a comprehensive way.
How can I help myself ?
In addition to this, you might find it helpful to talk to other people you know who are Catholics; they might be friends, members of your family, or people you work with. Being a catholic ins’t always easy, and like the Gospel itself, is challenging: so ask them to be honest with you! God encounters us in many different ways in our lives, and personal contact with other people is a good way of learning about something.
What are the consequences ?
As a Catholic you become part of a worldwide community of believers, and of a local parish; you will want to familiarise yourself with Catholic moral and social teachings; you will be responsible as a parent for educating your children in the Catholic faith. Above all as you grow in faith, you will be a true ‘light of Christ’.
And what about the future ?
The journey doesn’t end with Confirmation. As Catholics we should pray every day, take part in the Mass every Sunday and Holy day of obligation, live the seasons and feasts of the Church’s life, receive the sacraments and live a life of Christian charity towards out fellow man. Christ invited us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. You are special and unique in the sight of God. He wants the best for you and is leading you to himself. As you reflect on how to become a Catholic, try to be open to God’s will.