Catechized Christian Candidates

The discernment that needs to be done with all Christian candidates is always done on an individual basis. Catechized Christian candidates are not automatically placed in the catechumenal process. They are to receive doctrinal and spiritual preparation.

A catechized Christian candidate is one who has been living as an active part of the faith community of his/her baptism: This candidate:

  • identifies with the traditions and faith system of the community of his/her baptism
  • has the habit of Sunday worship
  • is familiar with the bible and may or may not read it regularly
  • is familiar with other members of his/her faith community
  • is a person who prays
  • understands and may or may not be involved in community outreach

Discernment of readiness of these candidates is based on the four pillars that ground the Initiation process; namely, Word, Worship, Community and Service. The critical question is whether or not the candidate is moving forward on the conversion journey.

We need to discern if and how the candidate is moving:

From   To
Literalist understanding WORD understanding its meaning
Only privatistic prayer WORSHIP public worship
Concern for one's own needs SERVICE clear openness to needs of others
Rugged individualism COMMUNITY communal interdependence

In addition it is important for the catechumenal team to understand the belief system in which this person was raised (Anglican, Lutheran, etc1.) and how invested the candidate was in that belief system.

Both the RCIA director and the candidate uncover the areas of formation that are needed before the candidate can be accepted into full communion. The catechetical formation for these candidates:

  • is done either with small groups that already exist in the parish {ex. the parish lectors or bible study group could help the candidate move from literalist understanding of the Word to understanding its meaning}
  • or with their sponsors {who would be able to introduce them to many members of the community particularly those who rely on the kindness and prayers of the church...sick, parents with special needs children, senior citizens, prayer groups, etc. and then discuss the effect that the faith of these people has on the candidate}
  • or at Adult Education that is being offered in the parish, vicariate, diocese {always including reflection and discussion as an essential part of these offerings}
  • or through reading/ study/ discussion
  • or with the catechumenal group only when the subject matter needed by the candidate matches what is being presented at the catechetical session

The most important thing to remember in the preparation of these candidates who are journeying to full communion is that they are not catechumens. " baptism they have already become members of the Church and children of God.2 They have rights and obligations in the Church. One of those obligations is to join the community in worship on Sundays.

In his recent instruction3 Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that the "goal of the whole process of initiation is the Eucharist". The question then needs to be asked: What is it that prevents these candidates from participation at the table of the Eucharist?

For catechumens it is lack of "baptism...becoming part of God's family" that prevents them from participation at the table of the Eucharist.

For candidates it is lack of "unity in the faith that we as Catholics profess" that prevents them from full participation at the table of the Eucharist. All of our catechetical efforts are designed to prepare the candidate for this unity.

These candidates are expected to receive the sacrament of reconciliation - sometimes called second baptism - at a time prior to and distinct from the rite of reception.4 The purpose of this sacrament is to help the candidate "admit aloud sorrow for one's sins and to hear the church's minister extend the mercy of Christ. It can be a moment of powerful healing for those who have made this spiritual journey deeply - not just as a shift from one faith community to another but as a recommitment to Jesus Christ and his church."5


1 Outlines of the beliefs of some major Christian Traditions are attached to this paper.
2 RCIA # 400
Also, "...{those} who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are brought into a certain, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church....all who have been justified by faith in baptism are incorporated into Christ; ..." (Decree on Ecumenism, #3)
Sacramentum Caritatis, 17
4 National Statutes, 36
5 Turner, Paul, When Other Christians Become Catholic, (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2007), 134.