Becoming a Catholic

Continuous Catechumenate

When a person ponders the possibility of becoming a Catholic, we, the community of St. Walter, welcome him or her to begin the process from the moment of inquiry. The director will set up an interview with the person so as to appreciate the uniqueness of the inquiry.

Whereas some churches base the process on a school calendar, we use a continuous process. Your journey begins when you inquire, and is travelled according to your faith development and needs.

Here are possible initial questions that a person may have concerning the process, normally referred to as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).

What if I have not been raised with any religious affiliation, unbaptized, or from another religion other than Christianity?

Persons within this category would be considered unbaptized, referring to the ritual whereby one becomes a Christian. During an interview, we will discuss your interest in Christianity, namely Catholicism. Depending on the conversation, we can continue to have meetings to assure that Catholicism seems to be the appropriate faith tradition.

When ready, the unbaptized person would begin a stage known as precatechumenate. The person will join others who are seeking to join the Church. This period of instruction varies according to the knowledge and spiritual formation of each seeker.

When determined by the team, the person is invited to the next stage, the catechumenate. In the Rite of Acceptance, the person formally proclaims his or her intent to further their journey towards the Catholic faith. From this point, the person is referred to as a catechumen, Greek for one who echoes the faith.

As the catechumen approaches the Season of Lent, he or she is presented to the Bishop of the Diocese of Joliet during the Rite of Election. Along with other catechumens from throughout the diocese, he or she enters the final stage of preparation, and is referred to as the Elect, who he or she has been elected by God.

The Elect undergo a period of intense reflection, scrutiny, and prayer during Lent. Finally on the Easter Vigil, he or she is invited to become a full member of the Catholic Church. The Elect is baptized, confirmed, and receive Eucharist with the community of believers.

Afterwards, there is a process to help the newly-initiated to adjust to being a Catholic, and determine the best venues for continued faith formation.

What if I am baptized in another Christian tradition, and want to become a Catholic?

As Catholics, we acknowledge one Christian baptism. Whereas most Christian churches offer baptism, the director will inquire to assure its validity.

The inquirer will be allowed to enter a period of informal meetings with the director and team. When ready, he or she will be allowed to join those in the precatechumenate. After some time and discernment, the inquirer will be invited to the Rite of Welcome, when he or she formally acknowledges the study towards becoming a Catholic. From that point, the person is referred to as a candidate.

The candidate will join the catechumenate. Since the person is already a Christian, the time for becoming a Catholic varies on an individual basis. After reflection and prayer, the team and the candidate will determine the time for full reception into the Catholic Church. At the designated Mass, the candidate will make a Profession of Faith, be confirmed, and receive Eucharist with the community of believers. Afterwards, there is a process to help the newly-initiated to adjust to being a Catholic, and determine the best venues for continued faith formation.

What if I am not sure that the Baptism my church used is valid?

During the interview, the director will help determine the validity of the baptism. Some churches do not baptize; others may practice presentations or dedications. These may not necessarily be baptism. If such is the case, the person may be asked to consider the catechumenate towards full initiation into the Catholic Church.

What is a sponsor, and how to do I get one?

Each catechumen or candidate should have a spiritual companion who will walk the journey with him or her. In addition to being an active Catholic who has completed the Sacrament of baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, the sponsor should be a person who willing to participate fully in the RCIA sessions. The team will help discern a potential sponsor, if needed.

Do I need to be prepared in any way?

There is always apprehension in venturing into the unknown. You need only come with an open mind and heart. We will help you along the way. Trust that God will guide you, and we will do our part.

For more information, contact Dr. Kenneth Ortega,

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