You may be aware that in the past people wanting to become Catholic were required to participate in a programme of private instruction with the parish priest, consisting of a set number of weekly ‘lessons’ on Catholic doctrine. Once the instructions were completed, the ‘convert’ was baptised (if necessary) and confirmed in a private ceremony with only the priest and a sponsor present.


This changed in the 1960s after the Second Vatican Council. The current process by which new members are brought into the Catholic Church is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA.

“As a younger person I had an interest in things of a spiritual nature but struggled to find a way to express those yearnings. Unfortunately, at that time, my experience with some traditional churches was not positive, and for many years I tried to find “my own way”. I had, however, always been fascinated by the symbolism, history, and tradition of the Catholic Church.”

“I don’t presume to speak for the brothers and sisters who joined the Catholic family with me at Easter, but I know they won’t mind me saying how moved and privileged we all felt when we were confirmed and received our first communion.”

Journey of Faith

The RCIA is best described as a journey of faith which passes through a number of different phases and focuses on conversion of heart and mind to Christ. It is a gradual journey tailored to the needs of the individual – no ‘one-size-fits-all’ any longer!

The process is more public than the older ‘instruction’ programme. Candidates meet regularly with a group of people from the parish to learn about Catholic belief and practice. Various rituals are held in the church at important points along the way.

Local Catholic parishes hold regular inquiry sessions for those who want to know more about the Catholic Church or who may be interested in becoming a Catholic.  Some people may then choose to embark on the RCIA journey. From the moment someone is received into the ‘catechumenate’, they become part of the Catholic Christian community.

Find out more

To find out more about becoming a Catholic Christian, contact your local Catholic parish, or another Catholic parish which you are likely to attend, by going to Mass and asking to speak to the parish priest or pastoral associate, or by phoning the parish office to make an appointment. 

For more information on what Catholics believe you can phone the Catholic Enquiry Centre on (04) 385 8518 or visit their website