The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults includes a Rite of Welcoming the Candidates as an optional rite that welcomes baptized but previously uncatechized adults (411). However, there is no rite for welcoming baptized catechized adults. As a result, the catechized candidates are often folded into the welcoming rite for the uncatechized.
Who are the catechized candidates in our parishes? The first group that leaps to mind is active Christians from other traditions who are married to Catholics and perhaps even raising their children as Catholics. How often have you heard someone say about one of these folks: I didn’t know Bob wasn’t Catholic! Or sometimes there are Catholics among us who were not confirmed as teenagers. They too are active members, joining us in Eucharist every Sunday. And there are Catholics who celebrated first Communion as a child and then stopped going to church. Now, as adults, they are seeking to complete their initiation. These folks, too, can be considered at least minimally catechized because they had to have been prepared to celebrate first Communion. The RCIA makes no provision for these catechized candidates because their journey of faith does not closely parallel that of the catechumens.
To say these folks are catechized, however, is not to say they need no further catechesis. Some may need quite a bit of preparation (for example, those who left after first Communion and are now returning). Some may need very little preparation (for example, the active Catholics who are catching up on their confirmations). All of them need a welcome to this new phase of their faith journey that is distinct from the welcome of the uncatechized.
So how do we welcome them? One option is to adapt the Order for the Welcoming of New Parishioners from the Book of Blessings. To call this an Order, however, seems a bit overblown. The ritual is extremely simple. It consists of having the pastor present the candidates to the assembly after the opening greeting at a Sunday Mass. Then he invites the assembly to express their welcome by their applause.
Another option, with a bit more heft to it, is to adapt the ritual for Welcoming Returning Members and Members Baptized in Other Traditions. Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of that before. It is an Episcopalian rite, found in the Book of Occasional Services. This adapted rite would take place on a Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Download a free copy of my alternative Rite of Welcome for baptized catechized candidates. Simply type in your email address in the form below. When you click “submit” you’ll be able to download the Word file of this rite for you to adapt and use in your parish.
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