Can you be be unbaptized and catechized in the RCIA?

7 thoughts on “Can you be be unbaptized and catechized in the RCIA?”

  1. I almost was one. I came to faith very early in life, was highly catechized by missionary parents, but wasn’t baptized until adulthood because baptism has almost nothing to do with becoming a Christian in Evangelicalism – it’s simply a witness to the faith that must already be present. I was not baptized during childhood due to the nomadic nature of my missionary kid life, so my story is not the norm for Evangelicals who usually baptize children who have arrived at the “age of decision.” But although baptism is considered an ordinance in Evangelical theology but isn’t required for faith. It wasn’t until I joined the Anglican Church in my late twenties, several years before I was accepted into full communion with the Catholic Church, that I was baptized because it was required for membership. Had I not traveled through the Anglican Communion first, I might have been an unbaptized, catechized candidate in the Catholic Church. I’m glad this wasn’t how it worked out for me because it would have been difficult to be treated as uninitiated in the RCIA process. I was definitely catechized, and not just because I had done a lot of “self-study.” I had already been living the Christian faith in a Christian family and in various Christian communities for 30 years. I think it is possible, although probably somewhat rare, for individuals to be truly catechized yet unbaptized.

  2. Ministering in North Carolina I have had the joy–and confusion–of journeying with many individuals whose stories are not unlike Daniel’s and whom I would consider catechized but unbaptized (a category not conceived of by the authors of the RCIA). Because, as Daniel notes, baptism in many evangelical communities is not seen as a sacrament one celebrates in order to be incorporated into the Body of Christ but rather as a sign of a faith that is already implanted there are many persons who come to our door who have not only already undergone a conversion in mind and in action and…developed a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching as well as a spirit of faith and charity” (120) but also have familiarity with the liturgical year in, for example, Methodist communities that use the Revised Common Lectionary. If we remember that some and even very many of the significant elements and endowments which together go to build up and give life to the Church itself, can exist outside the visible boundaries of the Catholic Church (Unitatis Redintegratio 3), then I think we cannot say that persons having previously belonged to such communities, even if not baptized, are therefore uncatechized. I have thus far, however, never encountered such a person who does not derive benefit from, add wonderful discussion to, and want to fully participate in a year-long catechumenal process leading to their baptism at the Easter Vigil.

  3. Last year, a 23 year old young lady came to our parish who was raised Catholic by her devout grandparents. She attended Catholic schools for several years as a child, then as a high school student. She went to Mass on a regular basis, but was never baptized. Her mother was married and divorced several times, and she just never ‘got around’ to baptizing any of the children, to the dismay of the grandparents. This young lady said she attended Mass on a regular basis until she went to college, then she stopped attending until her junior year, then started attending regularly. She came to our parish in her senior year, after she had started to attend Mass again with her Catholic boyfriend.
    She was baptized this past Easter Vigil, after a period of only a few months in the Catechumenate. She recently graduated from college, and is currently attending a wonderful Catholic parish in San Antonio Texas where she is completing her internship in nuclear medicine as a nurse. She keeps in touch with me since we became close while she was in the Catechumenate.
    I’ve encountered a lot of ‘cultural Catholics’ in the past few years who were raised half-heartedly as Catholics, although their parents never took the time to baptize them. I also see quite a few Hispanic children who are older (junior and senior high school) who are unbaptized, but since their parents have settled for a year in our rural area to work on farms and ranches, have requested that thier children recieve Sacraments while they are in one place for a while. Most of them have attended Mass their entire lives, but usually at different parishes, staying for only a couple of months or so due to the parent’s work situation.

  4. My sister-in-law was never raised with any religion as a child, but once she met my brother 7 years ago, she has been ‘practicing and living the Catholic faith’ by going to Mass regularly, praying on her own and with the family, having theological discussions and self-study. She is more “Catholic” than many Catholics but she is unbaptized. She wanted to join the parish RCIA but the leaders told her that she might take up to 3 years to be baptized, that they would decide when she is ready. She was extremely put off by the experience and stopped RCIA. Now she would still like to attend, but she wants to go to another parish because she felt so belittled. The pastor simply trusts the RCIA leaders to know what’s best. In a way I think she should just stick it out and jump through the hoops in her own parish, and on the other hand, I think – would I want to do that, really?

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