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Aleksi wrote:

Hey Mike,

I just figured out that in order to join the Finnish Catholic Church, I have to go through a year-long  training session.

Does this apply everywhere or is it just in Finland?

I'm going to see if I can reduce the time by some self-study.

Aleksi

  { Do I have to go through a long training session to become a Catholic? }

Mike replied:

Hi Aleksi,

You said:
Does this apply everywhere or is it just in Finland?

These days, it probably applies in most places. Why?

Because becoming Catholic is not just a one-time confession of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior. It is that, but it's more. It includes:

  • understanding all the teachings of the Church
  • developing friends and friendships with your Catholic community and
  • discerning where the Lord is calling YOU to serve in His Church

In the USA, the process of joining the Church is called RCIA or Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. most of the time it is a 9 month process that ends on Easter Sunday.

The length of time may differ in other countries for various reasons.
In unusual cases, the training time may be reduced, but it's not the norm.

I know this must be a little difficult for you, seeing you have previously told me your immediate family has anti-Catholic views.

The benefits of a long training session is that you'll become, over time, more knowledgeable about what Catholics believe and why. This will give you more of an opportunity to clear up misperceptions about what the Church teaches among non-Catholic and anti-Catholic family members and friends.

Hope this helps!

I will keep you in my prayers,

Mike

Eric replied:

Mike replied:
In the USA, the process of joining the Church is called RCIA or Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. MOST of the time it is a 9 month process that ends on Easter Sunday.

In general this is true but if you are already baptized, and especially if you are well-educated in the Catholic faith, you may be able to persuade the pastor to give you one-on-one instruction and admit you early. Ask around. (Also note that Christians do not technically have to go through RCIA. Often, candidates [as they are called, as opposed to catechumens who are unbaptized] are sent to the same classes, but it's a mistake to put a baptized person into the RCIA program. [The program involves rituals and other things in addition to classes.]) Also read and study the Catechism (cover-to-cover, if you can), which will show your earnestness to learn.

Another catechism that is good for someone from a Protestant (particularly an Evangelical/Fundamentalist perspective) is Basics of the Faith: A Catholic Catechism by Alan Schreck. It does have one error in it which you should be aware of; it speaks of the Catholic Church as being part of the Church of Christ, whereas in fact we believe it is the Church of Christ (this is predicated on the translation of the Latin word subsistere), but other than that, it's an excellent resource.

While these are not teaching aids per se, you may enjoy and get benefit from conversion stories such as Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn and Surprised by Truth, Surprised by Truth 2and 3 edited by Patrick Madrid.

If you want common questions answered (particularly hostile questions), check out the Essential Catholic Survival Guide from Catholic Answers. This is a collection of all their tracts (which you can preview on their web site) and has a lot of good explanation of Catholic teaching, although it is a bit biased toward beliefs that Protestants challenge us on (rather than, say, the foundation of the faith).

Eric

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