Frequently Asked Questions about RCIA
- What is Christian initiation?
- What is involved in RCIA?
- Who can participate?
- How do I sign up for RCIA?
- When and where are the RCIA sessions held?
- What is the format of the sessions?
- Who can I call for more information or clarification about RCIA at BC?
- I think I was baptized, but am not sure. What kind of information do I need to join RCIA?
- If I was baptized in another church, will I be rebaptized?
- I was told I need a sponsor who is a baptized and confirmed Catholic who will attend the sessions with me. What does a sponsor do and how do I find one?
- I know who I want my sponsor to be, but that person doesn’t live locally and can’t attend sessions. Can that person still be my sponsor?
- I already know a lot about the Catholic Church. Can I skip RCIA?
- My schedule doesn’t permit me to attend your sessions. What should I do?
- What happens if I start RCIA and then decide I don’t want to be Catholic?
- Is there a cost for the program?
Christian Initiation refers to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist (Holy Communion) through which one becomes a full member of the Christian community. These sacraments are celebrated at the Easter Vigil or during the Easter season. The RCIA process is specific to those entering the Catholic Church.
At BC, students interested in participating in RCIA first meet with Ellen Modica, the director of the program, to learn more about it and to discuss their particular circumstances. The program itself consists of weekly meetings throughout the school year where questions about the Catholic Church, relationship with Jesus, issues of faith, church practices, etc. are discussed. Participants are encouraged to pray daily and to attend Mass on a regular basis. Preparation for the various rites that are celebrated as part of the RCIA process is also part of the program.
Any student or employee of Boston College who is interested in joining or learning more about the Catholic Church is welcome at RCIA. This includes those who are unbaptized, baptized in another Christian Church, or baptized in the Catholic Church but have never received Eucharist or Confirmation.
You can contact Ellen Modica, the director of the RCIA program who can give you more information. Also, please complete the RCIA registration form (login with your BC credentials) to provide us with some information ahead of time.
The weekly meetings will be held on Monday nights from 7 - 8:30 PM in the rectory of St. Ignatius Church (28 Commonwealth Ave); we meet in the conference room on the garden (basement) level.
The weekly meetings will provide time for questions from participants, input on a specific topic, and discussion and preparation for the following Sunday's liturgy. These meetings also provide time for personal reflection, prayer and community-building with others who are on the faith journey.
Please contact Ellen Modica in the Campus Ministry office.
If you were baptized, you should be able to get a copy of your baptismal record (either a certificate or a letter from the pastor) from your church or congregation. Locating records can sometimes be difficult or time-consuming, so you should try to obtain these records as early in the process as possible. We must see these records to confirm your baptismal status before you’re received into the Church. If your church or congregation did not keep records or no longer exists, we can make other arrangements. The specifics of what records you need will be discussed at your initial meeting with the director.
If you were baptized with water in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, you will not be baptized again. If you are unsure of the form of your baptism, someone in the program can help you to figure this out and what your next steps should be.
I was told I need a sponsor who is a baptized and confirmed Catholic who will attend the sessions with me. What does a sponsor do and how do I find one?
A sponsor is someone who is one the journey with you and can help answer some of your questions. They will stand up with you during the various liturgical rites that are part of the program. They do need to be baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church. If possible, that person will attend the meetings with you, but that is not absolutely necessary. A sponsor can be a friend, a colleague or a mentor. We have people we can call on in the BC community who can serve as sponsors if you don’t have someone to fill that role for you.
I know who I want my sponsor to be, but that person doesn’t live locally and can’t attend sessions. Can that person still be my sponsor?
Yes. While the best practice is to have your sponsor attend meetings with you, it is permissible to have a sponsor who is not able to do so.
Skipping RCIA entirely is never recommended. Part of the RCIA process includes participating in the various rites that happen over the course of the program. These rites are important milestones in the process and go a long way in helping a person feel connected to the Church. Another important aspect is the community-building and support that occurs by spending time with others in the program. Ultimately, every person’s situation is unique, and the knowledge and experience that someone comes in with is a factor in determining how much time is appropriate for them to spend in the program.
There are a couple of options. St. Ignatius Church offers an RCIA program that meets on Sunday mornings at 11 AM. For more information about that program, please call the rectory office at 617-552-6100. Also, we may be able to arrange catechesis in a private setting with a qualified member of the BC community.
You are never under any obligation to continue in the program if at any time you decide you do not want to join the Catholic Church. If, after making that decision you wanted to continue attending meetings for your own education, you would be more than welcome to do so.
Not generally. We strongly suggest all participants have a copy of the Catholic Study Bible, and some years we ask everyone to purchase a book that we’ll be using in the meetings, but otherwise there is no cost.