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Bailey Matney wrote:

Hi, guys —

My mother was raised Catholic but stopped going to church after a while. She has taught me countless things about the Catholic faith.

I want to join a local Catholic parish in my town but she has told me that you can't just walk in and join a service. You have to take classes and do some other things before you are recognized as a member of the Church, so . . .

  • How do I join the Catholic Church and a Catholic parish?

Bailey Matney

  { Since I cannot just walk into a parish and join a service, how do I join and become a Catholic? }

Bob replied:

Bailey,

I don't fully understand your personal status (Baptism, etc.), so knowing that would clarify things a bit. In any case, you can go to any Catholic Church and attend Mass; (refraining from Communion however until you are fully Catholic), meet the priest, and talk to him about becoming Catholic or completing your sacraments.

If you desire to be Catholic, there is nothing to prevent you. We are glad to welcome you to the family!

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Mike replied:

Dear Bailey,

Unlike other Christian denomination, the Church, which is not a denomination, requires that interested faith-seekers understand Catholic beliefs and teachings prior to joining.

This is no different than what a policeman has to do before becoming a policeman or what a fireman has to do before becoming a fireman. They have to study their vocation/interest.

The same is true with becoming a Catholic.

The Church obviously can't hold each individual accountable for their choices but it is Her desire that faithful Catholics remain faithful to Her teachings which come from Jesus and those He put in charge before His Ascension into Heaven.

As Bob pointed out, you are welcome to attend Mass with us whenever you can but have to remain in the pew during Communion time and instead say a Spiritual Communion. (See below.)

Spiritual Communion

O Lord Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
I love you [above all things]|[with all my mind and my heart] and I long for thee in my soul.
Since I cannot receive You now sacramentally, at least come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace myself entirely to You and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.

Come Lord Jesus [optional add-on:] and glorify yourself through my weak body.

Amen.

Although we don't hear this from the pulpit much, when Catholics receive Communion during Mass, they are publicly saying,

"I am in a Common Union with the teachings of the Church."

If you don't know all the teachings of the Church, you can't say this. For this reason interested faith-seekers enroll in RCIA classes . . .

  1. to learn what we believe, and
  2. build community among new friends in various ministries.

This point isn't emphasized as much in Protestant congregations because their teachings can change from year to year. Catholic teachings don't change though they may be clarified.

As my colleague Eric has pointed out in another reply:

The right reason to become Catholic is not because Catholicism lines up with your personal beliefs but because the Catholic Church is a truth-telling Church.

In other words, as a Catholic you should believe that your beliefs should align with Catholicism, and not the other way around.

You will be asked, as a convert, to accept whatever the Catholic Church teaches to be revealed by God — now and in the future, known and unknown. You should choose the Church because She tells the truth and always will, not because what She teaches agrees with your opinions.

Keep this in mind.

I hope this helps, and as Bob said:

Welcome to the family!

Mike

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