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USCCB RCIA Q&A

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

En Español

Welcome! We are happy you are interested in learning about the Catholic faith. We hope the following answers your initial questions. To hear from others who have been through the RCIA process, see New Catholic Testimonials. To learn more, visit a Catholic church near you

Where can I learn about Catholicism?

You are always welcome to attend a Sunday Mass (worship service) at a Catholic church in your area. Go to the Parishes by City page and click on a name to find a church’s address, contact information and Mass schedule. We also offer a list of resources that explain the Catholic faith at the bottom of this page.

What if I think that I want to become Catholic?

God calls and we respond. Through the process of Christian initiation, men and women at all stages of the faith journey come together in a non-threatening and non-pressured atmosphere to learn more about the Catholic Church. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a process by which men and women become members of the Catholic Church. The process takes place within the context of the church community, and after a suitable period of formation, culminates in the reception of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The Catholic Church honors the baptism of those who have already been baptized with the Trinitarian formula and it is not necessary for them to be baptized again.

RCIA provides a forum for shared spiritual growth and a means to explore the Catholic Christian tradition through Scripture, sacraments, Church teaching and social outreach, all in the midst of the Catholic faith community. Formation includes several areas:

  • Scripture: the stories of God’s people
  • Teaching: what Catholics believe
  • Prayer: how we communicate with God
  • Liturgy: how the community worships
  • Mission: how we live out what we believe

To learn more about the RCIA process, go to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' RCIA Q&A.

Who may attend RCIA?

The process of initiation is for adults who ...

  • are unbaptized and want to become Catholic Christians through the sacrament of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist;
  • are baptized Christians (in another faith tradition or Catholic) who want full sacramental membership in the Roman Catholic Church through confirmation and Eucharist;
  • attend a Catholic Church because of a loved one or spouse and are not sure if the Catholic Church is for them, but are willing to ask questions.
  • children who have reached the age of reason (about seven years)
How long does it take to become a Catholic?

It takes “as long as it takes.” Becoming a Catholic is ongoing and is life-long commitment. The process usually takes approximately a year but may take less or more time depending on the individual. Those who opt to begin the process meet once a week and begin to attend Sunday Mass. Those who are ready to make the commitment to become members of the Catholic Church usually do so at the Easter Vigil or at other times throughout the year. To learn more, go to RCIA Steps.

What if I change my mind?

By coming to inquire and finding out what is involved one is not making a commitment. During the first few months one is free to leave at any time. One may take all the time needed before making any commitment. There is no pressure and one should feel free to decide when one is ready to make such a commitment.

How do I join an RCIA process?

If you want to learn more about becoming Catholic, contact the Catholic church nearest you and participate in RCIA. For more information, go to Parishes by City or Parishes by Name.

Where can I find good resources that explain the Catholic faith?

The Office of Faith Formation recommends the following resources for further study of the Catholic faith:

Books
  • “Believing in Jesus: A Popular Overview of the Catholic Faith”
    by Leonard Foley, O.F.M. published by St. Anthony Press
  • “Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church”
    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Publishers
  • “Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs” by Alan Schreck published by Servant Books, Ann Arbor, Mich.
  • “Why do Catholics ... ? A Guide to Catholic Belief and Practice” by Sister Charlene Altemose, MSC, published by Harcourt Religion Publishers
Catholic UPdate

Catholic Update, a monthly faith formation newsletter published by St. Anthony Messenger Press. Each four-page issue addresses a single topic and explains it thoroughly. Many articles are available online. Click here for an alphabetical listing of these articles. We recommend the following articles:

  • “What Catholics Believe: A Popular Overview of Catholic Teaching” by Leonard Foley, OFM
  • “Nine Things That Make Us Catholic” by Thomas H. Groome
  • “A Tour of a Catholic Church” by Thomas Richstatter, OFM, STD
  • “A Walk Through the Mass: A Step-by-Step Explanation” by Thomas Richstatter, OFM
  • “Baptism: Our Lifelong Call” by Nicholas Lohkamp, OFM
  • “Who Will Be Saved? What Catholics Believe About Salvation” by Thomas Richstatter, OFM
  • “Do Catholics Worship Images?” by Teresita Scully
  • “Choosing and Using a Bible: What Catholics Should Know” by Ronald D. Witherup
  • “Raptured or Not? A Catholic Understanding” by Michael D. Guinan, OFM, PhD
  • “Ten Questions About Annulment” by Joseph M. Champlin
  • “The RCIA: The Art of Making New Catholics” by Sandra DeGidio, OSM
  • “The Creed: Faith Essentials for Catholics” by Thomas Bokenkotter
  • “How to Understand the Bible: Examining the Tools of Today's Scripture Scholars” by Norman Langenbrunner
  • “Pathways of Prayer” by Jack Wintz, OFM

Return to the Top

Many articles are also available in Spanish. Click here for Español Catholic Update.