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Joanne Michaels wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am a Christian who, although I was christened in the Church of England and went to Sunday school there as a child (because that was the religion of my father), I also grew up learning aspects of the Catholic faith and even went to a Catholic Church sometimes because my mother is Catholic.

She taught me a lot about:

  • the Catholic faith
  • the Rosary
  • how to pray the Rosary
  • Our Lady
  • the saints, and
  • how to pray to the saints.

I learned about things such as Mass and Holy Communion. As I have got older, more and more I have been turning to my faith and what my mother had taught me and I've read a lot of books and researched on-line as more and more it is my Catholic faith that I'm being drawn to.

That said, I never was baptized as a Catholic and don't currently go to any church. I do pray a lot and try to live by the virtues of a good strong Catholic faith. I know in my heart and have known for a long long time, that being Catholic is what I want to be.

I already am Catholic, in my heart, in my faith, and in my spirit . . . just not officially. I know it is the right religion for me. I want to be baptized as a Catholic and to have all my daughters baptized Catholic. I have been passing on my knowledge to my older daughter and raising her in the beliefs of the Catholic Church and I am raising my young daughter who is only 2-years-old the same way with the same morals and virtues taught by the Church:

  • to have faith
  • to say their prayers
  • to pray whenever they need help or guidance
  • to pray for others in need
  • to pray for the devastations we see in the world around us, and
  • for there to be peace in the world.

I want them to think of others with a compassionate heart and to try to make the world a better place and, above all, hope they will never lose their faith. I want to go to my local Catholic parish and have us all baptized there. The problem is I don't know anyone there. I don't know how we would be received by the other members of the church. I don't want to go there and for us to feel uncomfortable or to have everyone staring at us and wondering, who are these strange people in our church and what do they want.

I always wished that I could meet someone first and get to know them so we could go with them and be introduced to the other people there and then to the priest so we could share our story and be accepted and to feel like we belonged. I guess my question to you is:

  • How are newcomers usually received when first attending a Catholic church?
  • Do they have a process in place that welcomes newcomers to the church and those who wish to convert to Catholicism?
  • Also does the Church have any kind of mentoring or support program, that pairs newcomers up with someone in their church to guide them and make them feel welcome and supported?

Certainly for me, knowing someone there first, who knows me and welcomes me and introduces me to everyone would certainly help and make the whole transition process so much easier.

Depending on your reply, I may just need to perk up the courage and face this fear head on.

After all, what's the worst that can happen and I may just be glad that I took the initiative myself. It may actually turn out to be a blessing that I go and, after all, they are Catholic and therefore I would expect that they would, in fact, be welcoming, friendly, supportive, and helpful to someone new entering their church.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to your reply.

Joanne

  { Do they have a process in place that welcomes newcomers and converts into the Catholic Church? }

Bob replied:

Joanne,

Praise God for your heartfelt desire to become Catholic. We welcome you and your children with open arms. I think you will find that most Catholic parishes will be very warm and welcoming.

Perhaps you can visit a few that a near to where you live and see if there is one that feels like home but, in the very least, visit any parish and talk to a priest about the RCIA programs that are available for you. I'm sure that prayerful consideration and God's lead will take you to the right place, but regardless of where you go, Jesus is the same, especially in the Eucharist.

Your baptism is already valid, since you were baptized in the Church of England, so you will simply be received into the Church and then complete your other sacraments. Baptism is an unrepeatable Sacrament so there is no cause to do it again . . . as any Christian church that follows the proper Trinitarian formula is acceptable.

I wish you the very best on your journey. I know there will be wonderful things in store for you and, again, Welcome home!

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Hi, Joanne —

In addition to Bob's fine comments I just wanted to add my two cents.

You said:

  • Also does the Church have any kind of mentoring or support program, that pairs newcomers up with someone in their church to guide them and make them feel welcome and supported?

RCIA programs can be extremely good or not so good.

For this reason, support and mentoring programs at the parish level are key to keeping a growing Catholic faith. Whether one is a newcomer, convert, or ordinary parishioner, parish support groups are key to keeping the true faith and a source of help when Catholics receive challenges to their faith and need help.

I would encourage pastors and priests reading this posting to develop or start support and mentoring programs at the parish level, especially in the areas of:

  • newcomers to the faith, and
  • those who engage in apologetics. [which hopefully your parishioners are familiar with.]

Thanks for the good question.

Mike

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