Once you are committed to the process (which may take time, we allow tons of free engagement), the requirements that you will need to fulfill are as follows: Each candidate or catechumen is required to attend:
- all Tuesday Classes
- our Spring Prayer Retreat
- all Rites
- our Sunday evening Mass at 6pm
- Breaking Open the Word (BOW) which occurs during the 6pm Mass every Sunday
By joining the RCIA process we ask that you would make a two-fold commitment: to the process itself and to having an open heart and mind. Throughout the process, there are weekly classes, various rites (Church services), retreats, socials, service opportunities and other events; we are asking you to commit to these regular meetings. This commitment may mean giving something up for a time that may be in conflict with our meetings, but the sacrifice would be for a limited time and well worth it!
Similar to a marriage, you ultimately have until the very end of the process before making the commitment. A wise Archbishop once told an engaged couple seeking marriage prep counseling that he would only be their marriage prep pastor if they truly felt free to dissolve the engagement even up to the day of the wedding if one of them had a change of heart/mind. For the commitment to be real it MUST remain free. In light of that, we encourage everyone in the process to continue discerning the invitation until the very day (i.e. Easter Vigil/Easter Friday) they are being received into the Church.
By no means must you desire to become Catholic to be in RCIA. The process is for anyone interested in the Catholic faith or anyone who has questions about Catholicism as well as those who plan on entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
There are a number of pieces of information we may ask for along the way. For instance, if you are/were married in any way, we will need your marriage history so we can see if there is a need for an annulment. In addition, we will ask for your religious background along with a copy of your baptismal certificate if you have been baptized. Finally, we will also ask you to provide a little information about yourself, your interests, and what brought you to this process. We ask these questions only so that we may better meet the unique needs of each of you throughout the RCIA process.
If you are baptized and/or married, we ask that you provide us a copy of your baptismal certificate and/or marriage license for our records (see below in FAQ for more information on this). Please provide this to us as soon as possible as many people have a difficult time obtaining these certificates.
Please call the Church where you were baptized. Nearly all Churches archive baptismal records. If the certificate is irretrievable then please obtain some kind of documentation of your baptism (i.e. a program from the baptism, pictures, etc.). If neither the baptismal certificate nor other documentation can be found then please contact the director (Matt Boettger) immediately.
Contrary to popular opinion, annulments are not the Catholic form of divorce. It does not “erase” the civil contract, and it does not render the children illegitimate. It merely states that after thorough investigation, the Church had decided that a marriage, as the Church understands marriage, was not valid. According to the Catholic teaching, marriage is a permanent partnership of a man and woman (CCC 1601). Because a marriage lasts “until death do us part,” no one can enter into a second permanent partnership while his or her first spouse is living. Even if the civil contract is dissolved through divorce, the spiritual bond continues. The couple remains married in the eyes of the Church.
However, the Church also recognizes legitimate reasons why a wedding may not have led to a valid marriage. If through the annulment investigation the Church comes to moral certitude that no valid marriage took place, then the parties are free to marry someone else. Why do people in the RCIA process need them? If someone wants to become Catholic and they are divorced and remarried, there are some things to consider. First, if God joins together two people in marriage, humans cannot separate it; they do not have the power. If two people have left their first marriage and married again, that could be an area of sin, even adultery. It is the Church’s responsibility to determine wheteher the first marriage ever took place. If it did not, then they are free to marry, for they never were married to begin with. For these reasons, those going through the RCIA process must receive an annulment, if needed, before becoming Catholic. A person that is merely divorced, and not remarried, remains in good standing with the Church. It is recommended that a person who is divorced and not remarried proceed with an annulment as you never know when God may place another person in your life.
If you have been baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit whether that be through the Catholic Church or not, you are considered a Candidate. Only the unbaptized are considered Catechumens.
While many parishes allow you to choose your own sponsor, this parish does not. The purpose of a sponsor is to help you enter into the parish community here at St. Thomas. We try to ensure that each candidate or catechumen is paired with a sponsor who is both faithful and knowledge of what St. Thomas has to offer. However, if there is someone from St. Thomas you would like to have as your sponsor, please bring it to the director’s attention as such suggestions are taken into serious consideration.
The relationship with your sponsor is intended to be a positive experience. If circumstances arise that you and your sponsor cannot continue a cordial relationship, please bring this to the director’s attention immediately. While it is possible that a new sponsor may be assigned to the candidate/catechumen, serious reasons must accompany such a decision. Serious reasons excluded, we ask that the particular relationship be seen as an opportunity to love in the face of difficulty. Such a relationship offers the opportunity to love like Christ as every Christian is called to do.
We know that life-circumstances can intrude during this process so one absence per semester is offered. All absences should be communicated to the director (Matt Boettger) prior to the event. For each subsequent absence, the candidate or catechumen is asked to listen to the lecture online and to type up a one page reflection of the class including any questions. The summary should be emailed to the director prior to the following class.
If this is the case, you will need to meet with the director as well as the pastor to help determine whether this year is the best year for you to come into the Church. We are not trying to be “legalists” but we realize that one must love the Church to enter into communion with Her. To love the Church requires knowledge of Who exactly the Church is. Class participation is an indispensable part of this journey!
The Rite of Welcome and Acceptance is something every candidate and catechumen is invited to participate in. The condition for this rite is that each individual have a desire to respond to God’s call and to follow Jesus Christ. Only those rites celebrated during Lent should be reserved for those who feel a conviction to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Up to that point, each catechumen and candidates is encouraged to take part in all the rites associated with RCIA.