Discover a beautiful faith in the Catholic Church
What is RCIA?
R.C.I.A., or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is the process by which interested adults undertake a journey of conversion leading to initiation into the Catholic Church at Easter. The RCIA is not a "sign-up" for becoming a Catholic. It is a time of no obligation spiritual formation during which we look at the meaning of life, the answers to eternal questions, and the truths, teachings, and practices of the Catholic Church. Our gatherings are open to all people and as different people pursue the possibility of becoming Catholic through the RCIA process, they fall into various categories as follows:
Anyone who is in RCIA simply to check out the possibility and learn more, but is very much uncertain about making any decision.
An un-baptized person who has made a decision to possibly enter the Catholic Church.
A baptized Christian who has made a decision to possibly enter the Catholic Church. A candidate can also be a baptized Catholic who has never received First Communion or any religious instruction.
RCIA classes are held on Wednesday evenings. As you discern God's call, please know of our prayers for you and offer of support and encouragement. If you have any questions, please email Joe Swiss, Director of Liturgy.
Who can apply?
Any adult, 18 years and older, who is unbaptized or a baptized Christian of another faith, may participate in the RCIA process.
What is the process?
1. The process begins with several weeks of inquiry and instruction, during which interested individuals can learn the core beliefs of the Catholic Church, sacraments and rituals, and basic church history. This is a time when inquirers ask a lot of questions of the RCIA team members and class speakers. After this initial period, participants are asked to affirm their decision to continue the conversion process.
2. Next is an extended period of weekly classes and other activities designed to involve participants in the church community. This period allows participants the opportunity to examine their commitment to the process through regular attendance at classes and an encouraged participation in community service events and involvement in other parish activities.
3. For those committed, the next step is an intense period of prayer and reflection leading to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. St. John's normally celebrates these at the Easter Vigil.
4. The process is completed in a period of reflection and prayer during which the newly baptized and/or confirmed Catholics can further their faith formation.
I’m engaged to marry a Catholic and we want to be married in the Catholic church. What should I do?
We encourage your interest in marrying in the church, but discourage entry into the RCIA process for the sole purpose of marriage in the Church. Since initiation into the faith is a long-term commitment, we suggest you proceed with the marriage then enter the RCIA process after careful thought and prayer.
What if I’m married civilly, divorced, or divorced and remarried?
If you were married in a civil ceremony or if you are divorced and remarried, the Church may require an annulment or con-validation. Your circumstances must be addressed before beginning RCIA. Please email Joe Swiss, Director of Liturgy or call the parish office and ask for Joe, 301-662-8288.
If you are divorced but not remarried, you are free to begin the RCIA process. An annulment may be required if you later choose to marry in the Catholic Church.
What documents are required for becoming Catholic?
Baptized Christians of another faith will need a copy of their baptismal record. Copies of marriage certificates and decrees of annulment in the Church may be required if appropriate.
What about attendance?
Regular participation is strongly encouraged at all weekly meetings, days of prayer and community service events. Attendance is viewed as a commitment to the process. Please feel free to discuss any attendance conflicts with one of the RCIA team members.
Does anyone help me?
You will be paired with a sponsor to help you throughout the initiation process. Sponsors are fully initiated Catholics chosen from the St. John community. Spouses or fiancées may assist the participant, but are not encouraged to act as their sponsor. The RCIA team is always available to answer questions and to select your sponsor.
Those who seek the sacrament of Baptism may choose a godparent in addition to their sponsor. Details will be explained during the process.
When does the process start?
Those curious about the Catholic faith are encouraged to begin exploring this process whenever they feel so moved. Timing of the process and reception of sacraments is always geared toward your readiness to move forward through the process. The majority of candidates for the sacraments traditionally begin this process in the fall, moving toward receiving the sacraments at Easter, but we welcome you to begin this process at any time.