Can you take RCIA classes online?

QCan you take RCIA classes online?

A“RCIA” is an acronym for “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.” It is first of all a rite and therefore cannot be done online.

Sometimes we think of becoming a Christian as simply a matter of making an intellectual assent to a body of beliefs. This notion leads us to the understanding that we need to be instructed in a school-like structure about Christianity just as we might be instructed about mathematics. While there is an important intellectual component to Christianity, becoming a Christian is much more about practicing a counter-cultural lifestyle. The early Church called it “The Way.” One learns to live as a Christian by living with and imitating other Christians. That cannot be done online, just as learning to play baseball or learning to be a member of an orchestra cannot be done online. You have to be there.

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  1. Perhaps we should not be too hasty about giving an absolute negative response to the question. Certainly, a person needs to connect with a community at some point prior to full participation in the sacraments of initiation. And yes, becoming Catholic is more than an intellectual exercise. That said, I think RCIA leaders can perform a great service to those who, for one reason or another, cannot connect with a faith community. We can do this by maintaining an online (e-mail) dialogue, sharing notes and handouts from our RCIA sessions, and recommending appropriate reading material. We have constructed our RCIA website ( provide a taste of that possibility.

    If someone were to ask me to help them learn about/understand the theology and spirituality of Catholic Christianity, I would do everything reasonable to help that inquirer. AND I would urge the faith community option along the way. In other words, there may be someone out there who is so geographically or emotionally isolated that they would need this kind of outreach as an encouragement to take the next step.

    Moral: Let’s not be too quick with a “No.”

    Al Garrotto
    RCIA Coordinator
    Christ the King Parish
    Pleasant Hill, CA

  2. I agree with Al… I do everything possible to help those who are interested in finding their way.
    A website would be a good way to get them at least part of the way through the rite. They could watch videos, partake in email discussions, ask questions…

    I have been doing RCIA for nearly 10 years, and it never fails; at the beginning of the year I’m approached by someone who wants to become Catholic but cannot make ANY of the classes due to their work schedule (meetings are weekly on Thursday nights). I don’t feel I can turn them down, after all, in the South, Catholics are constantly “attacked” about their faith, and when someone wants to join the church, I don’t feel that I can say “No”.

    We use many videos and handouts and a text (The Privilege of Being Catholic), and those not in attendance can keep up, as long as we provide a way for them to ask questions and get their answers.

    Many Thanks for a wonderful website!

    Deacon Greg Weigold
    RCIA Director
    Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church
    Chapin, SC

  3. Hi Greg and Al. I didn’t mean to sound like I was saying “no” to joining the church. I was saying that becoming a Catholic is a much bigger process than keeping up with videos and handouts. It is an apprenticeship in a way of life. While we can stay in touch with folks online and offer them support via e-mail and chat groups, it is difficult for me to see how one can learn to live as a Catholic if they are not participating in liturgy, faith sharing, catechesis, and service to the poor with other Catholics.

  4. I agree that one should participate in liturgy, faith sharing, catecheses, and service to the poor with other Catholics in order to learn to live as a Catholic. However, at times there are extinuating circumstances that make it very difficult. I live in a non-English speaking country and have three small children. I have felt called to convert to Catholicism for the three years that I have lived here and would like to begin my journey now so that I can live as a Catholic when I return to America.

  5. Hi Allison,

    I think it’s great that you want to begin your journey now, and I will pray for you. If send me an e-mail at and tell me what town and country you are in, I’ll do my best to find out if there are any Catholic parishes nearby that can help you.

  6. Thank you all for your responses. I was raised as a Baptist, but felt a tugging toward the Catholic Church about a year ago. I went to my local parish and spoke with them about becoming a member. I was told that I would have to take the RCIA classes which was fine as I wanted to learn more. The problem was inflexibility. The classes started on a certain date, were on the same night and time every week for a set number of weeks, then would end. That is great for someone working a normal 9-5 job, but I am a police officer working a midnight shift. The classes proved to be more of an obstacle than a help.

  7. Hi Michael. I’m really sorry that happened to you. Most parishes are more flexible, and it’s too bad the one you encountered was not more so. Are there other Catholic Churches near you? You might have a better experience at a different one.

  8. Nick, thank you for the e-mail you sent me. I started my journey by beginning the RCIA. I spoke with the local Priest and Deacon and they were able to work with me. It seems that so many people had scheduling issues that they are holding lectures on Sunday mornings and Monday nights so that people can make one or the other. I am so excited to be starting on this path finally.