How do I become a Catholic?
How do I go about becoming a Catholic? How can I find out about the Catholic Faith?
Have you reached a moment in your life when you feel drawn to share in the faith life of the Catholic Church? Do you want to know more about the Catholic Church? In St Peter’s Parish you will find a warm welcome and the guidance and help that you need.
The first step that you need to take is to have a chat with John Lally who is responsible for preparing people to join the Church in the parish. He will be happy to answer your questions and he will be able to explain how the parish can support you in preparing to become a Catholic or just finding out about the Catholic faith. He will also encourage you to begin coming to Mass on Sundays so that you become more familiar with the central act of worship for Catholics and the life of the parish community. It might be helpful to talk to any family or friends you have who are Catholics to find out a little more. And, above all, ask for guidance by the Holy Spirit as it is the Spirit who brings you to this point of interest, curiosity, or seeking.
The Church has a special programme for enquirers who want to know more about the Catholic faith and a process for those who wish to be received into membership of the Catholic Church. This is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. (RCIA) and is the normal way of preparing to be received into the Church or just a way of deciding if that is a route you wish to take. It is adapted in the parish to meet the needs of those attending. The decision about whether you complete the journey and are received into the Church is yours.
If you want to take part in this, you are welcome to join our Journey in Faith group which will meet on Monday evenings from October this year in the parish centre (alongside the Church) at 7.30 pm. The group includes a number of parishioners who have been through the course. They are the best ones to talk to if you have any qualms or questions about taking part. The meetings last for about an hour and a half. Each one consists of a talk on an aspect of the Catholic faith often centrally based on scripture and a time for discussion and raising questions with a time for prayer. This series of meetings will continue until Easter and with some follow-up meetings between Easter and Pentecost. Those who have taken part in the past always say that they have learned a lot about the Catholic faith and especially how to live it. The course is based ultimately on the one rule of life that Jesus taught:
"Love one another: just as I have loved you, you must also love one another."
By Christmas, the “enquirers” who are attending the meetings know, or at least have a good idea, if they want to become members of the Catholic Church. Once they have made the request to be received into the Church, they are known as catechumens if they have not been baptised, or candidates if they have been baptised in another Christian denomination. They will then be baptised or received into full-communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night which marks the beginning of the Season of Easter.
On Sunday the First Sunday of Lent, catechumens and candidates will be invited to take part in the Rite of Election normally at St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham. At this ceremony they will be “elected” by the Archbishop for reception into the Church at Easter. He will encourage and welcome each catechumen and candidate along with their sponsor and perhaps other family members. This is a ceremony attended by many people throughout our diocese who are preparing to join the Catholic Church.
By this time they will be regularly attending Sunday Mass. Each catechumen or candidate will require a sponsor to encourage and support them as they prepare to be received into the Church. This person will be a Catholic whose life of faith is important to them and who will hopefully have joined with them in the Journey in Faith course.
Taking part in the ceremonies of Holy Week that lead up to the Easter Vigil will be very important for the catechumens and candidates. Through these ceremonies the Church celebrates what gives meaning to the Catholic faith, namely the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. The sacraments that the catechumens and candidates will receive at the Easter Vigil, and throughout their lives as Catholics, will bring them to share more fully in his life.
I pray that the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.