Considering becoming Catholic?

We at St. James have a profound call from the Holy Father to bring about reunion between our separated brethren and the Catholic Church. We seek to answer those deep-hearted questions that each person has. We truly want this to be a time of faith seeking understanding. We know this is an individual journey that takes each and every one down different paths. We seek to accommodate those needs individually or as families in our Christian Initiation process.

 

Why Explore Catholicism through St. James Catholic Church?

Classes Designed for You: We get where you are coming from. Our pastor, Fr. Mayer, who teaches most of the classes, is himself a convert. He grew up as a devout evangelical and knows exactly what it feels like to make this journey. Because of his own experience, he has a knack for answering Protestant concerns and explaining the fullness of the faith as found in the Catholic Church.

Uncompromising Teaching: You can expect robust, engaging, fully Catholic teaching that is completely faithful to the magisterial teaching of the Church. We seek to answer those deep-hearted questions that each person has. After completing the classes you will have an excellent grasp on the fullness of the faith and be able to make a fully informed decision whether or not to become Catholic.

Welcoming Hospitality: Classes begin with introductions by those attending to encourage connections. Each class also has food, normally small sandwiches, chips, and drinks.

 

 

Ways to Consider Becoming Catholic

Common First Step: Attend a One Time Workshop: Experiencing one of these events will enable you to meet Father Mayer and see if his teaching style is a fit for you. “How the Bible Came Together” is a two hour workshop dive into the history of how the Catholic Church. The next available workshop will be taking place on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 from 6:30 to 8:30 via Zoom. Other tentatively scheduled workshops are being arranged for the evening of August 19, 2024 (in person), August 26, 2024 (Zoom), September 16, 2024 (in person), September 20, 2024 (Zoom). 

1. Attend 13 Class Sessions: scheduled every other Monday evening, 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, October 7, 2024 – March 24, 2025 at the Salem Centre (7235 Bentley Rd, Jacksonville). This is the best option as it allows you to digest teachings at a gradual pace along with others who are going through the same process. However, depending on your life situation you may need to choose one of the other options.

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3. Self Study: read the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults and meet at least monthly at the convenience of you and your sponsor to review, discuss, and ask questions about what you are learning. Because the Church recommends going through the process with a group of others, this is not the best option and often ends up taking longer or not being completed. So if you can do the group class sessions, that would be ideal, but it is understandable that the self study option is needed for some.

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4. Combination: You are welcome to combine any of the above options depending on your needs and your life circumstances. For example, if you miss one of the 13 classes, you can complete the material via assigned reading and essay question writing or a possible one on one meeting.

 

RSVP now for the classes you plan to take. Space is limited and priority is given to those who sign up first.

More about the Process for becoming Catholic

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is a process that helps interested individuals discern whether or not they would like to become part of the Catholic Church. 

Step 1: Exploring. This is the time of reading, watching videos, and taking classes in order to learn about the Catholic Church and if this is something you want to seriously consider

Step 2: Getting Serious. When you are ready to go public about your decision to seriously discern becoming part of the Catholic Church, you will be asked to chose a sponsor and then prayers will be prayed over you publicly during the beginning of a Mass (Catholic church service). You are now a Candidate for entrance into the Church. This is a probationary period of sorts as you continue to complete the classes.

Step 3: Final Preparation. If the probationary period goes well, you will be admitted to enter the final phase. During this time your preparation intensifies which and may include a trip down to the Cathedral to meet the bishop, special prayers at Mass, in addition to your completion of the classes. 

Step 4: Become Catholic. This final step often takes place at the Easter Vigil Mass (night before Easter Day), although it can take place at other times.

Who is RCIA For?

  • Anyone who is unbaptized 
  • Those baptized in another Christian tradition who are considering full communion with the Catholic Church.
  • Catholics baptized as infants, but who never received any instruction or formation in the Catholic Church and have yet to celebrate the sacraments of reconciliation, confirmation and eucharist.
  • Any individual, Catholic or non-Catholic, who would like to learn more about the Catholic Faith.

What are the requirements to be part of RCIA?

  • A person must have reached or be older than the age of reason (normally 7 or older)
  • A curiosity or desire to explore becoming Catholic
  • Not required: an upfront decision to become Catholic. 

What is the background and history of RCIA?

During the first centuries of Christianity, persons who desired to be followers of Jesus engaged in a thorough period of prayer, preparation, instruction and apprenticeship all set within the Christian Community. They spent one to three years in formation in what became known as the catechumenate. The term catechumen simply means one who is learning. Throughout the process of preparation, the catechumens became immersed in the teachings of Jesus and in the prayer life of the Church. This period of immersion ended with the reception of the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and First Eucharist—in that order, at Easter. The process generally took several years. 

During the fifth century, after Christianity became legal, large numbers of people desired to be Christian. The catechumenate was dissolved and people were brought into the Church without much preparation. 

In recent years, the Catholic Church has returned to this earlier formation process, now called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.