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Becoming a Catholic

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Interior of St. Ignatius church
Photos courtesy of OMC

Adults interested in joining the Catholic Church do so through a process called the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). The RCIA is a journey of faith which allows you to explore the Catholic Church, go deeper into understanding yourself and God, and be formed in faith by reflecting on God’s Word, and the Catholic community’s life, liturgy and beliefs. This formation process culminates in full membership in the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of initiation:  Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist.

There are generally three categories of people who participate in the RCIA process:

  • Those who have never been baptized
  • Those who have been baptized in a Protestant Church (i.e. Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, etc.)
  • Those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church but never received Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.

Students who have been baptized and received communion in the Catholic Church but not confirmed are welcome to participate in our Confirmation program which begins in January. Please contact Fr. Tony Penna for more information on this program.

Photo of maroon Bible

While the journey takes varying amounts of time for each person, there are several defined steps in the process.

The period of Inquiry is a time for asking questions and finding out more about the Church and its life of faith.

The Catechumenate begins with the Rite of Acceptance and Welcome.  During this period there are weekly meetings to pray, share the scriptures and how they relate to one’s life, and to reflect on the Catholic faith and one’s response to it.

The period of Purification and Enlightenment begins with the first Sunday of Lent, when the Rite of Election is celebrated.  This period continues the reflection on scripture and one’s own life, focusing now upon Lenten themes: liberation from sin, deepening in prayer, works of charity and sacrifice. It culminates with the reception of the sacraments of initiation during the Easter season.

Mystagogy, the time directly after the sacraments of initiation have been received, is when new Church members reflect further on their understanding of the Easter sacraments, become better integrated into the faith community, and discover how they can participate in the Church Community into which they have been welcomed.


The RCIA program at Boston College begins in September. We meet on Wednesday evenings from 7-9 pm, beginning on September 16, 2015. If you have questions about becoming a Catholic or the RCIA program, please contact Ellen Modica.


Register for the next RCIA program

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RCIA Frequently Asked Questions