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How Do I Become Catholic?

The usual way in today’s church for an adult to become a Catholic is a process called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, commonly referred to as the RCIA.  

The RCIA is not a program to be started, and then completed sometime in the future. Rather it is a process which supports the journey that each is called to travel.  It is a threefold journey of transformation: 

1.   The personal interior journey of a lived relationship with Christ resulting in the deep desire to choose to be a disciple.

2.    The journey into the Church through reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.

3.   The journey of active practice – as evidenced by receiving the sacraments, attending Mass, and participating in the life and mission of the Catholic community.

In our parish we have a  group of very dedicated parishioners who meet with inquirers of all ages and persuasions – those who have never been baptised, those baptised in another Christian faith and even those who have been baptised in the Catholic Faith but who have never celebrated the other sacraments of Initiation. They offer friendship, support and encouragement through the four stages of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. 

RCIA Stages


In the beginning there is usually some curiosity, sometime or something that brings an individual to ponder on the God that Catholics talk about.  This 1st stage is called a time of Inquiry. Once you begin to wonder about the catholic faith, you are already in this step! You may ask friends or co-workers questions; you may read books; you may even make some approaches to the parish to find out what is involved. It is your time, so use it well and ask whatever questions that arise for you.

Out of that curiosity comes an openness to the Church, an openness to learning more, an openness to the call of God, even if one is not yet sure about what that call entails. This 2nd stage is called the Catechumenate  and begins with a public commitment in the Rite of Acceptance when the individual will be signed with the Cross of Christ.

The Catechumenate involves a period of growing in knowledge of the scriptures, when the Sunday Gospel readings become the focus of formation. During this time you are called into the prayer life and the community life of the parish. Our people will gently lead you into greater understanding of the scriptures and will encourage you to keep asking questions – in many cases your questions will open them up to a deeper understanding of their own faith. This is a time of friendship and exploration.
The Catechumenate  period provides time for you to be nurtured and to grow in your faith, allowing God to do His work of conversion within you.

The 3rd Stage is called the Period of Purification and Enlightenment and it begins with the Rite of Election, which takes place in the Cathedral of the Diocese, usually at the beginning of Lent.
Leading into this Rite of Election each catechumen will be offered opportunity, together with their sponsors and RCIA team, to make a discernment of their readiness to receive the Sacraments of initiation. At this point the catechumens are deemed to have sufficient formation to be permitted to proceed to the Easter Sacraments. 
You will then be sent by the parish to St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, and to the Archbishop for his blessing.  Your names will be inscribed in the Book of the Elect.  From that day on, you will no longer be called catechumens but will be known as the ‘elect’  –  those called and chosen by God himself to share in the life of the Church, through the sacraments as initiation into His life. 
The 40 days of Lent become a period of intense spiritual preparation, not solely for the catechumens. The whole parish community joins you in prayer on the Sundays of Lent as you reflect most deeply on human life, the world and God’s wonderful love for us all.

Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.

The final step in this period takes place at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night (the night before Easter).
On this night of nights we celebrate:

  • for the catechumens (those not yet baptised) –  all three of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
  • for the candidates (those baptised in another Christian faith) – a profession of Catholic Faith and the reception of Confirmation and Eucharist; 
  • and for baptised Catholics – the reception of Confirmation and Eucharist.

This is the major feast of the Church’s year. It is usually celebrated in the dark and focuses on the Paschal Candle, which represents Jesus, the light of the world.
This is the night our Alleluia rings out loud and joyfully. It is a night of memories and a night of hope. It is the night we remember the whole story of our salvation. As you are brought into full communion with the Catholic Faith, we pray it will become for you too a night of extraordinary memories,  and a night filled with anticipation and hope.

The 4th Stage is that of post-baptismal catechesis or Mystagogy. The word ‘mystagogy’ comes from the Greek words meaning “to lead through the mysteries.” In the context of faith, a mystery is not something we solve — it is something we enter into with God in a sense of wonder, respect and awe. We accept the mysteries of our faith even though we may not fully understand them.

Traditionally mystagogy for the neophytes (from the Greek meaning ‘the newly planted’) extends throughout the Easter season, until the feast of Pentecost. It is however the work of all the baptised throughout their lives.   For new Catholics it is a period of accompaniment  as you discover what it means to fully participate in the sacramental mysteries of the Church. Even though your catechetical preparation has been completed, you still have much to learn about what it means to live as Catholic Christians.  
Mystagogy is both a process of looking backwards and looking forwards. It is a process of reflecting upon something that has happened, and considering just how that event is going to influence and affect how we live. It allows us to share your reflections on the mysteries you have recently celebrated at the Easter Vigil. Together we deepen our knowledge of how the Sacraments of Initiation affect our daily lives.

Enquiry about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)


Coming into the Catholic faith as an adult is an exciting prospect for many, though the initial inquiry may be somewhat challenging for some. 

If you would prefer to be able to ask questions of a person,  please use the form below to touch base with us, and we will be in touch as soon as possible.