Frequently Asked Questions
About the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA)
What is OCIA?
The Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) —formally called the RCIA, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults—is the process by which adults (or children of catechetical age) are initiated into the Catholic Church. This process is the work of the entire parish and in perhaps a more special way those who are able to lead discussions, act as sponsors, present topics, pray for those on the journey, sew, bake, and other activities related to the entire process. It is not a program in Catholicism. The OCIA restores the ancient practice of the Church as the normal way to prepare adults for baptism.
Who can participate?
- The OCIA process is open to those individuals who have been baptized in another Christian denomination and who wish to explore membership in the Catholic Church.
- The OCIA process is open to all unbaptized individuals (adults and children) who express a desire to learn about Catholic practices and beliefs.
- The OCIA process is open to those adults (or children of catechetical age) who have been baptized Catholic as babies but who have not completed the Sacraments of Initiation.
Am I obligated to become Catholic?
There is no obligation on participants in this process to become members of the Catholic Church.
What can I expect of the process?
Participants who go through the OCIA can expect to develop a deeper and stronger relationship with God. They will also gain a much broader perspective on and understanding of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Individuals will study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and may receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.
Why does it require so much time?
The OCIA is not a program. At St. Francis of Assisi, we believe that OCIA is a process of preparation for the lifetime commitment that comes with reception into the Church. Consequently, some people will need more time than others to prepare for this. The unbaptized (catechumens) and the uncatechized (candidates) adults should experience as close to one full Catholic liturgical year as they can in order to make a fully informed decision about becoming Catholic.
What is expected of me?
All that is expected is a desire to learn about the Catholic faith and grow. Attendance is expected at the approximately 2-hour scheduled sessions. These sessions are the times to raise any and all of your questions about the faith. Attendance is expected at the Rite of Acceptance, the Rite of Election, and at the Easter Vigil.
Each member of the OCIA is encouraged to spend some time in prayer and to read the additional materials to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the particular aspect of the Catholic faith. The Church is very rich in her teachings and practices and it takes a lifetime–even for those of us baptized as babies–to continually conform oneself to God.
How long do the sessions last?
Regular meetings last approximately two hours.
What should I bring to the sessions?
All required materials will be provided. You will be given a bible and catechism after the Rite of Acceptance.
Does OCIA cost anything?
There is no charge for participation in the OCIA process.
What is a sponsor?
A sponsor is a practicing Catholic, at least 16 years old, who acts as a spiritual companion and support as you make this journey, and serves as a mentor in the Catholic life. Usually, this sponsor is a practicing member of the St. Francis Parish Community.
What does a sponsor do?
Sponsors should participate in the weekly sessions with their candidate. They also stay in regular contact with the participant talking about the ongoing process of faith development. Sponsors celebrate the rites and rituals with the participant and of course attend the Easter Vigil where the participant is initiated into the Catholic Church. The sponsor’s promise is to listen and to assist participants with determining where God is leading them without pushing them in any one direction.
Is OCIA offered elsewhere?
Yes. Pretty much all parishes have some type of OCIA formation process.
What if I am not sure about becoming Catholic?
OCIA is a time for exploring the many different aspects of the Catholic Church. People can ask as many questions as they need or want, especially areas where they do not feel comfortable. During this process, individuals are given time and space to question and think through for themselves whether or not this is a good fit for them. There is no obligation. Even Catholics do not know everything about the Church.
I am engaged to a Catholic; do I have to go through OCIA?
No. You do not have to become Catholic to be married in the Catholic Church. The decision to join OCIA is a personal one you should make for yourself and not feel as if you have to become Catholic.
Do I need an annulment before I can join the Church?
No, you do not necessarily need an annulment to join the Church. The only time an annulment would become necessary is if you are already in a second marriage or you plan to remarry in the Catholic Church.
I’ve been confirmed in another faith; do I still have to go through the OCIA?
People who have been baptized in another denomination are not re-baptized. However, people who have been confirmed in another faith do make a profession of faith, are confirmed as Catholics, and receive Eucharist as Catholics at the Easter Vigil. Proper formation is necessary for you to understand what it is you are professing and receiving.
If you would like to be contacted or have any questions or comments fill out the OCIA Inquiry Contact Form below. For more information, contact Kelly Hernandez at khernandez [@] stfrancisa2.org or 821-2122.
Forms and Resources