Ready to become Catholic? Never been Baptized? (OCIA)
Many people who express their interest in the Catholic Faith to a Catholic family member, friend or acquaintance are told to “ask a parish about signing up for OCIA”. The “OCIA” – or “The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults” (with adaptations for children 7+), is the process by which unbaptized persons, over the age of reason (generally age 7), are prepared to be received into the Catholic Church. The OCIA has existed in some form since the very beginnings of the Church nearly 2,000 years ago.
Those enrolled in OCIA are call “catechumens”, and have made the conscious decision to become Catholic. For catechumens the OCIA is a prayerful journey, where their understanding of the Faith is deepened and reinforced, where any gaps in their knowledge are filled, and where they are supported and strengthened through the formal prayer of the Church (the “Liturgy”). The goal for each catechumen is to be able to confidently profess the Creed and receive the 3 sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Holy Communion) at the Easter Vigil Mass, which makes them full members of the Catholic Church. The heart of the Creed is contained in the statement, “I believe and profess all that the holy, Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.”
Note: If you are a baptized Christian, scroll down to the section “What about someone who is Baptized?” If you are an unbaptized adult, click the OCIA link below, and if you are signing up a child aged 7-14 who is not baptized, click the OCIA for Children link below. Our parish OCIA program is composed primarily of in-person sessions we welcome you to start at anytime of the year. Upon completion of the registration form a parish representative will reach out to you to begin the journey with you and your family.
What about Someone who is Baptized?
For those baptized Christians who have not yet decided to become Catholic but want to learn or understand more about Catholic beliefs and teachings, they would be welcomed into our Inquiry process. Click the “Inquiry” link in the section below, fill out the sign-up form, and a parish representative will follow up with your regarding your interest.
However, if/when a protestant Christian makes the decision to become Catholic, they usually would not go through the OCIA process in the typical manner described in the OCIA section. This is an important distinction. The reason is the vast majority of protestants are already baptized Christians. The Catholic Church looks at these Christians as brothers and sisters in Christ due to their Baptism, but acknowledges, while family, they are still separated by some important differences. What is missing is a Profession of Faith, “I believe and profess all that the holy, Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God” and the reception of the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist (Holy Communion).
Baptized protestants are thus recognized officially as “Candidates for Full Communion”, and while they may be received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, they are able to be received into the Church at nearly any time, provided they have been properly prepared in their understanding of the Catholic Faith. Click the following link, fill out the sign-up form for Candidate for Full Communion, and a parish representative will follow up with your regarding your interest. A person may also have been Baptized Catholic and did not complete the Sacraments of Initiation still needing to prepare to participate in the Eucharist and Confirmation. If you already received all the Sacraments of Initiation but have lapsed in your participation of the Church click the link I’m a Catholic Ready to Come Home.
I’m Curious but not ready to commit (Inquiry)
OCIA is not always the proper fit for anyone and everyone who may have questions about the Catholic Faith, as many of them have not yet made a decision to become Catholic, and as such, are not ready to prepare to receive the sacraments at Easter and participate in the liturgical components of the OCIA. In these circumstances there are important questions which require answers, teachings and beliefs which need to be discussed, and movements of the heart and mind which require prayerful discernment.
Fortunately, it is not a “Become Catholic now or nothing!” kind of a situation. This particular group of authentic truth seekers are welcomed by the Catholic Church as “Inquirers.” Inquirers are those who have not yet made the decision to become Catholic but are interested in learning about the beliefs and teachings of the Church. Inquiry is an open-ended process, which does not require a decision from the participants at any point in time. In various parishes inquirers are frequently invited to participate in OCIA meetings and programs, but they do not participate the liturgical steps and sacramental components of the OCIA process. In our parish the process of Inquiry and OCIA are similarly combined. Click the following link, fill out the sign-up form for Inquiry, and a parish representative will follow up with your regarding your interest.
Still Need Help
We are here to walk with you, if you are confused and just want someone to answer your questions email Emma Geis and she will help you figure out where you fit in our family.