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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

How do I become a Roman Catholic?

Each year, we reach out to those on the campus who are interested or curious about the Catholic faith. Some have a desire to learn more about the faith but do not necessarily want to become Roman Catholic. Others who are not baptized not only want to learn about Catholicism but have a desire to seek Baptism when they find themselves spiritually ready to make a commitment. Still others are already baptized in a Christian faith and might want to join the Catholic Church. Finally, there are those baptized Catholics who did not complete their Christian initiation or fell away from the practice of the faith and desire to re-commit themselves to the Catholic Church while at Villanova. 

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA, offers those interested on any level an opportunity to explore what it means to be a Roman Catholic in today’s world. If you desire to examine further what it means to be a Catholic or how you might become a Roman Catholic, please contact Fr. Aldo Potencio, OSA, for more information.


Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This period is known as the period of evangelization and pre-catechumenate. For some, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, a shorter time. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church. 

After a conversation with a priest or RCIA director, the person, known as an "inquirer," may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a "catechumen."

The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions they encounter along the way and how God leads them on this journey. During this time, the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they need to make to respond to God's inspiration and what Baptism in the Catholic Church means. 

When a catechumen and the priest and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election. Even before the catechumens are baptized, they have a special relationship to the Church.


Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for men and women who are baptized Christians but not Roman Catholics. These individuals make a profession of faith but are not baptized again. 

To prepare for this reception, the people, who are called "candidates," usually participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Some preparation may be with catechumens preparing for baptism, but the preparation for candidates is different since they have already been baptized and committed to Jesus Christ. Many have also been active members of other Christian communities.

Catholics who were baptized and confirmed and made First Communion but then drifted from the faith can return through the Sacrament of Penance. Catholics who were baptized but never received Confirmation and/or Eucharist can participate in the process of continuing conversion. This process is completed with the reception of the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil or during the Easter Season.