The multi-stage process is sometimes likened to couples who contemplate marriage.
The first step is called INQUIRY. During this phase, general information about the Catholic faith is given. It helps answer the basic questions that people have about the church. This usually takes place during the summer months. There is no commitment at this time. You are just getting to know more about the Catholic Church and her teachings.
The second step is called CATECHUMENATE (which comes from a Greek word meaning ‘one who is instructed’). This phase is about being nurtured and growing in faith. We offer weekly gatherings to more deeply explore the Catholic faith. We grow in experiencing God through Prayer, studying The Bible and learning about the teachings of the Church. This phase includes both information and spiritual formation. This phase could be like “dating or going steady.”
The third step is PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT. This phase, which embraces the season of Lent, is more about spiritual growth. We reflect on how to develop a closer relationship with God through prayer.
We have a personal opportunity to join other adults from all the Catholic Churches in southeast Iowa to celebrate the “Rite of Election” at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport with Bishop Martin Amos. This phase might be like “engagement,” when you are making a full and free commitment to enter the Catholic Church.
The fourth step is THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION. The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated at the Easter Vigil (the night before Easter Sunday). Those who are unbaptized receive all three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Those who are already baptized will receive Confirmation and Eucharist. It’s a night to remember! This is like “marriage"!
A fifth step is called “MYSTAGOGY” (from another Greek word meaning ‘unpacking the mysteries’). We gather to reflect on our experience of the Easter Vigil and how God touched you through the sacraments of initiation. In a sense this step is unending. Having become one with the Catholic Church, you are invited and encouraged to participate in the many opportunities Saint Mary’s offers to help you to continue to grow in your gift of faith. You could liken this to and ongoing “honeymoon” and daily “anniversaries”!
Becoming a Catholic
Are you feeling called to the Catholic Church?
Those who participate in the RCIA are drawn to the church in many ways: