How Long Does It Take to Become a Catholic?
If you’ve ever thought about becoming a Catholic, or even if you’re just interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, you might be wondering how long it takes. While the answer to that question will vary for each person, there are some general guidelines you can follow to help guide your journey.
1. The Catechumenate
Many adults who have never been baptized in any Christian church join the Catholic Church through a process of initiation called the catechumenate. This is a gradual process and is similar to the one offered to those who joined the Church in ancient times.
During this phase, an individual works closely with the priest and parish team to discern if he or she is ready to commit to becoming a Catholic. This process usually includes several liturgical celebrations, including the rite of election. The rite of election formally marks the beginning of a candidate’s time as a catechumen.
2. RCIA Formation for Adults
Next, the person enters the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA). Here, the person learns about the history, beliefs and values of the Catholic faith.
At the end of this step, the person becomes a catechumen and is officially accepted into the Church. This is a significant moment in the person’s life as he or she receives the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
3. RCIA Classes for Adults
At this point, the person has been immersed in catholic education for a year or more and is now ready to enter into the more intensive phase of the formation process. Here, the person is introduced to the life of the Church through monthly reflection sessions.
4. Participation in the Community
At the conclusion of this step, the person is given the opportunity to experience the parish community and participate in social, spiritual and service oriented activities. The person is also guided in a reflective manner to understand how these experiences can be applied to his or her own personal faith journey.
5. RCIA Check-Ins
The person’s journey into the Church continues with the person being periodically checked in by his or her priest and parish team to ensure that the individual is prepared for the responsibilities of full communion as a catholic. This process can take place over a period of months or even years.
6. Conversion to the Catholic faith
The process of conversion to the Catholic faith is a lifelong journey that includes several stages, each of which is a step along the path. The first stage is called the period of inquiry, and it may last for a few months or a few years, depending on the individual’s desire to explore his or her relationship with Christ and how that relationship might be enriched by joining the Catholic community.
7. Purification and Enlightenment
During this stage, the person undergoes an intense period of self-reflection, self-searching, and repentance. During this time, the person also deepens his or her commitment to a new life in Jesus Christ.