An alternative Rite of Welcome

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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  1. I really like what I see here.

    When we speak of catechized inquirer are we suggestion to move directly to this rite and have them begin their journey as candidates foregoing any precatechumenate? We have always invited them to come to a few inquiry sessions that would allow them to reflect on their journey and current sece of being called to explore the possibilty of living out their Christian commitment within the Catholic Church. It is also there that we include a tour of the church and respond to any question that would make them more comfortable at liturgy with us.

  2. Hi Bonnie. You’d have to make a pastoral judgment based on each person. For example, a Lutheran, married to a Catholic, who has been participating in Catholic Mass for several years would probably not need inquiry sessions. A Baptist, engaged to a Catholic, who is just now starting to participate in Mass would probably need a couple of introductory sessions. I wouldn’t call it precatechumenate though. Precatechumenate is a period for evangelization. If the inquirer is already evangelized and already catechized, the categories in the RCIA don’t really apply.

  3. This was really good info! Having grown up in the ELCA (lutheran) church, going through first communion as a kid and then two years of confirmation in my teens, I looked into becoming confirmed in the Catholic church about five years ago. I had been attending Mass at a Catholic church (as a part of an instrumental group) for a year or so, and I have an avid, in-depth fascination with theology that goes way back. So, when I was told that I would have to go through RCIA and months and months of twice-weekly classes, etc., I fizzled out on the idea since it involved changing my entire schedule around… plus I was a full time student and worked a full-time job, yadah yadah yadah….

    Also, it felt a little too weird for some reason – they were going to accept me as a candidate vs. a catechumen, but it seemed offensive to my intelligence for some reason – as if my whole church-going childhood was being laughed at or something…. make sense? Seriously, an ELCA Lutheran, Episcopalian, etc. can basically walk into a Catholic Mass and participate without even needing the Missal! For a Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., things are going to be a little more difficult

    Anyway, thanks for the great info – it’s hard to find ‘straight talk’ on the internet, and I think it’s because of a fear of offending lurkers out there, or getting attacked by militant people from other denominations, haha. Now I’m definitely going to make some inquiries locally.

  4. I am in a parish that usually has about 15 RCIA catechumens or candidates. I have found that many of the RCIA folks may have attended Mass for some time but still have lots of questions about our beliefs, history and development. Many time Catholic sponsors say they learned SO much even though they have been Catholic all their lives and attended catholic school or religious education.The community that is built and fostered through weekly catechetical/prayer sessions is very valuable so I always encourage folks to be part of the group as much as possible.

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