St. Joseph Odenton Catholic Church

Becoming Catholic
The RCIA Process

The Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults offer four distinct periods for study, reflection, prayer and formation in the Catholic faith. They are:

The Period of Inquiry: This begins with several sessions to see who might be interested in participating and what their personal needs might be. Questions can be raised and details set for the sessions. Once the sessions start, Inquiry provides a basic foundation for how Catholics understand God, Jesus, the Bible, Prayer, Community and Sacrament.

This is followed by the Period of the Catechumenate. Those who may desire full initiation celebrate the Rite of Welcome and establish a special relationship with the community. We pledge to support you as you discern God’ call. The sessions delve more deeply into belief and teaching while plumbing the sacred scriptures to illuminate God’s call.

The Period of Enlightenment follows, which is begun with the Rite of Election. No voting though! Election means choosing. In the Rite of Election the person chooses to move forward to full initiation and the Church chooses or elects these people to celebrate the sacraments at Easter. This is a time for greater inner reflection and discernment while the immediate preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are underway. This period culminates in the celebration of the Easter Vigil where those prepared for sacraments are fully initiated.

The Period of Mystagogy follows. This lasts for up to a year. Initially there are 4-6 weekly sessions. Then there are monthly opportunities to gather to learn more, build community or just have some fun. Of course we presume the new Catholics are coming to liturgy on Sunday and living the life of faith. Mystagogy or “walking in the mystery” helps root the new member of the community and strengthen the relationship that have been nurtured during this journey.

If you are interested, please e-mail Sr. Angela Case or contact the church office at 410.674.9238.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean to "become" a Catholic?
Becoming a Catholic is about a journey of life and one is always becoming, even when one has been born into a Catholic family and raised in the Church community. The word Catholic means "universal." The Catholic Church is a universal expression of God's call to the human family to come to believe and live in the way of Jesus Christ. The more we learn about and practice the faith the more we are becoming the men and women God calls us to be.

So if I want to become Catholic I join the parish right?
Well that is one part of the journey to be certain. All are welcome to our worship and activities. But becoming a Catholic is about growing, sacramentally, in a communion of life and love with each other through Jesus Christ. We are deeply rooted in particular beliefs in the nature of God, Church, Scripture and Sacrament. Initiation into the sacramental life, the mysteries of faith and the traditions of the faith are essential.

What's the difference between joining and initiation?
Well, you or I could join any number of organizations, like the Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce or a swim club or sport team. There is an exchange in the joining relationship. The one who joins brings certain things to the group and expects certain things in return. There is some consideration, a fee, dues or premium that is paid to be allowed to share in the benefits of the group. Initiation takes this further. First, there is no premium we could pay to be initiated into Jesus Christ and his community of disciples. Jesus has paid that premium himself by dying and rising for the forgiveness of sin and to bring all who believe to eternal life in total joy. Initiation involves transformation, becoming like the one we follow in as much as God's grace can bring about. Initiation means my mind, my emotions, my body, my immortal spirit or soul are opened up to the transforming power of God in Jesus.

What if I'm not baptized?
Initiation is for the un-baptized and the already baptized as well. The un-baptized are called Catechumen. The term, Catechumen, originates from the Greek word, "Katekhoumenos", meaning, "being instructed." The catechumen reflects on the Scriptures, which we believe are the revealed word of God. They study the apostolic tradition of the Church, rooted in and identified with the first disciples of Jesus. They prepare for the three Sacrament of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

If I've already been baptized, will I be baptized again?
Those already baptized into Christ by water and the Trinitarian profession of faith (God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and who are lead to make their spiritual home in the Catholic faith, share in a similar formation but are not re-baptized. These are called Candidates. When they are ready they make their Profession of Faith, which is sealed in confirmation, and then come to share in the table of the Lord, the Eucharist.

Who should participate in the RCIA Process?
All of the following are invited to participate in the RCIA Process - anyone who is not Catholic and wants to learn more about the Catholic Church; someone who is thinking about becoming a member of the Catholic Church; anyone who was baptized Catholic, but has never had any further formation in the Catholic faith and has not celebrated the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.

What do I have to do to prepare for sacraments?
Our community offers weekly sessions for reflection of scripture and the study of the tenets of faith we live by. There are celebrations in the Sunday liturgies throughout the year to mark the transforming power of grace at work in each person and the community as a whole. A team of people committed to minister to you and others on the formation journey assist and support each catechumen and candidate in this. Of course there is some reading and reflecting that each person must do to make the faith personal and integrated with our lives. This process is referred to as the RCIA or Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Do I have to become a Catholic?
No. The choice is totally up to you. The Holy Spirit will guide you on your faith journey.

How do my kids "become" Catholic?
There is a similar process for children seven years of age or older which is offered in age appropriate ways and usually occurs during the same time as standard faith formation. Sr. Angela Case can provide more information for you on this.

What happens after Easter?
After Easter, you will enter into the Period of Mystagogy. This period will last up to a year. This is an opportunity to continue reflecting on and sharing about the Sunday scriptures and to become actively involved in the ministries of the Parish.

What is a Sponsor?
The sponsor has several roles. A sponsor is someone who makes the journey of formation with you. The sponsor serves as a person to raise question with, tells fears and doubts to, as well as helps explain the faith to you. The sponsor also bears witness to the greater church that the catechumen or candidate is sincere and truly engaged in a formation of his or her life in Christ.

Who can be a Sponsor?
Any fully initiated Catholic can be a Sponsor. A "fully initiated" Catholic is one who has received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. A sponsor doesn't have the answers to all the questions a candidate or catechumen may have; however, a sponsor needs to be willing to share his/her faith and to spend time listening to and journeying with the candidate or catechumen.

Am I required to attend each week?
You are asked to attend each session. However, if you are unable to attend on a particular week, please discuss with Sr. Angela to see if other arrangements can be made.

Can my spouse or fiancé come with me to the sessions?
Certainly! In fact if you choose to be initiated into the Catholic faith, and your spouse or fiancé is fully initiated sacramentally, he or she may serve as your sponsor.

Will there be assignments outside of the weekly sessions?
Yes. Each week you are assigned the scripture readings for the following Sunday. There are also some reflection questions based on these readings as well as a journal question. These questions will be the basis for the small group sharing that is part of the session each week.

Is there a fee involved?
No. It is absolutely free. All that is asked of you is your commitment to attend the session each week, spend some time during the week reading and reflecting on the scriptures and participate in the Mass each Sunday.

Is there anything I need to buy?
You will not need to purchase anything. You will be provided with a Bible and a Catechumen's Companion.

Where/When do we meet?
We meet every Monday evening from 7:00-9:00pm at the Rectory in Odenton. Our weekly sessions start at the beginning of September and continue until mid-May.

How do I know if I'm ready?
Well it really is up to you! There is no pressure from the community, just an invitation. Here are a few things to consider in making your decision.
  1. Do I want a more dynamic spiritual life and understanding of God?
  2. Do I have questions about the meaning of life, eternity, evil and goodness that I can't seem to settle for myself?
  3. Has my past religious experience been un-satisfactory, scattered or disappointing?
  4. Am I willing to question, read and open myself up to new possibilities?
  5. Can I let go of preconceptions of others and listen to another's story?
  6. Do I want to share something deeper with my spouse, my children and my Catholic friends?
  7. Do I find comfort, hope and accessibility in Catholic liturgy and in the company of Catholic people?

God will lead if you seek.
God will answer when you knock.
God will reveal what you need to know.

Come and See!