Interested in becoming Catholic?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process during which the participants gradually experience a shared spiritual journey as they discern their call to become Catholic.  We will learn about, discuss and pray with various aspects of the Catholic faith:  its doctrines, history, sacraments, prayers, practices and rituals.  Sessions begin in September.  RCIA is for the baptized and the unbaptized, the devout and the curious, aged 18 and older.  Join us when you are ready to learn more about the Church and the possibility of becoming Catholic.

For more information, please contact Suzie Blaydes 

The Steps of RCIA 

RCIA is not just a “convert class” with a new name. It is a journey of progressive learning and deepening in faith. Special rites are celebrated during the Sunday liturgies at various times throughout the year.  RCIA involves the whole community – in prayer as the rites are celebrated, in hospitality as new members are welcomed and in ministries like sponsor or team member.

The most important thing to keep in mind about RCIA is this:  it is not merely a new way to prepare adults for baptism; baptism is only one step.  The goal of the process is full communion which means “full, conscious and active participation” in the Eucharist and in the whole life of the Catholic faith community.

RCIA helps adults to grow in their relationship with God, become familiar with Catholic teachings and practices, get acquainted with people in the community and get involved in service within the community.

Many persons who want to join the Catholic Church have already been baptized in another Christian church. They will not be rebaptized.  They will follow a form of these four steps adapted to the particular needs and concerns of Christians from another faith tradition.

First Step: Period of Inquiry

How someone comes to consider joining the Catholic Church is unique to each individual.  Years of marriage to a Catholic spouse, conversations with a Catholic friend or co-worker or even something written or viewed in the media can move an adult toward membership in the Catholic Church.  Informally, this can go on for years!

At some point, the person may contact a Catholic parish or community and begin to meet with other adults who are also inquiring about the Catholic faith.  These adults, with members of the RCIA team, will take time to tell their own stories and connect them with the faith stories found in scripture.

Second Step: Rite of Acceptance into The Order of Catechumens and Rite of Welcome. The Period of the Catechumenate and of ongoing conversion.

Some of the inquirers become firm in their desire for initiation and decide that they would like to begin more formal study of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church.  The unbaptized are admitted into the next step through a special ceremony called the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. For the baptized, this step is called the Rite of Welcome. In this ritual the Church symbolically claims those preparing for baptism for Christ by signing them with the cross.

This is the first time that the inquirers publicly declare their intention before the community.  Because no one likes to do something like that on his/her own, each inquirer is accompanied by a sponsor.  Sponsors may be chosen by the individual or provided by the community.  Sponsors provide support and companionship for the rest of the RCIA process.

After this rite, those preparing for baptism are called catechumens.  This name indicates that they are learning the teachings of the Church and beginning to accept Catholic tradition and practices. Those who have already been baptized continue as candidates.

Even though they are not yet initiated into full participation in the sacraments, catechumens and candidates do enjoy other important sources of help and grace.  They are assisted as they grow in faith by learning about the teachings of the Church and participating in works of service in the community.  At this stage they can be married in the Church and receive Christian burial.

The time spent as a catechumen will vary from person to person.  The bishops of the United States have suggested that this catechumenate period is to last for at least one year.

Third Step:  Rite of Election and the Period of Purification and Enlightenment

The period of the catechumenate ends when the catechumens discern, with the help of their sponsors and the parish RCIA team, that God is calling them to receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist) at the next Easter Vigil.  Before they can be initiated, they must be officially called to the sacraments by the bishop or someone designated by him.  This Rite of Election is often celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent in the diocesan cathedral.

The Rite of Election marks the end of formal study of the teachings and practices of the Church.  The catechumens are now called the elect.  The weeks of Lent are a time of intense prayer as the elect prepare themselves to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord at Easter and to receive the sacraments of initiation.

Baptized candidates share this more intense preparation for reception of the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist and full reception into the Catholic Church.

On the Sundays of Lent, the elect are prayed for in a special way to help them prepare more fully for the sacraments.  The sponsors continue to accompany the elect in church and support them in their Lenten preparations.

Fourth Step:  Initiation and Mystagogia

On Holy Saturday, the community assembles for the Easter Vigil.  The Church has always recognized that in baptism, we die to sin in Christ’s death so that we may rise to new life with him.  The Easter Vigil is the primary celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection and is, therefore, the most appropriate occasion for the elect to celebrate their Baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist.

For the newly initiated, now called neophytes, the time between Easter and Pentecost is a special opportunity to reflect on the commitment which they have made to the Lord, to the Church and to the local Catholic community.  This time of unfolding the meaning of the initiation sacraments is called mystagogia.  The Sunday scripture readings, which explain the meaning of the resurrection and of baptism, have special meaning for these new Catholics.  During this season, the bishop may gather the neophytes for a special Eucharistic celebration called the Mass of the Neophytes.

The journey of faith lasts a lifetime.  The weeks after Easter are a time for new Catholics to seek out their place in the community.  Other community members can reach out to welcome them, helping them to get involved and feel at home.

If you know someone who might like to begin journeying with us in faith, please invite them to contact Suzie Blaydes or call the front office at 706-543-2293.


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Birth Information

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You will need to send or bring a copy of your Baptismal Certificate to the Center.
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Marital Status Information

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Have these previous marriages been annulled by the Catholic Church?
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(A sponsor must be Confirmed and a practicing Catholic who is active in the Church. If your sponsor’s home parish is other than the Catholic Center, a “letter of good standing” from their home parish is required.)
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Previous Church Affiliation

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