Rite of Christian Initiation of Children

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Who does the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children apply to?

  • Children (7 years and older) who wish to become Catholic, but have never been baptized.
  • Children (7 years and older) who wish to become Catholic, but were baptized in another Christian faith.
  • Children who were baptized in the Catholic Church, but are beyond 2nd Grade (age 7) and have not yet received the sacraments of First Penance and First Communion are welcome to attend the classes in order to be “caught up” on material in preparation for their sacraments.

How do I enroll my child in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children?

Your first step is to be a registered parishioner at St. Catharine of Siena Cathedral Parish. If you are not a registered parishioner, please call the rectory (610-433-6461) to schedule an appointment with a priest who will register you in the parish. Once you have met with a priest and registered, please contact Miss Shankweiler at 610-432-7655 or jshankweiler@cathedral-church.org to set up an appointment.

How long is the process and what does it consist of?

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Children is a two year process, which asks for a sincere and fervent commitment from both the parents and the child(ren) involved. Sunday Mass attendance must be a priority and children are asked to attend one 60 minute class each week (typically from October-April). ***Please note, the classes are taught with the assumption that your child is attending Sunday Mass as a faith foundation. Your child is indeed “missing out” on many levels if Sunday Mass is not a priority.

During the second year of the process, an increase in commitment is requested from the catechumens (those who are seeking all three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist). Beginning the first Sunday of Advent children will be required to attend the 9:00AM Mass every Sunday until Easter. During the Mass, children will be “dismissed” after the homily and receive a short teaching on the readings from the Mass. In addition, there are two Rites that children and godparents will need to be present for: the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Election.

When and where do the classes take place?

Class days and times differ year to year based on the number of participants. However, classes typically take place on a week day afternoon (For example: Tuesday from 4:00PM-5:00PM). Classes are held in the Center for Religious Education, located on the first floor of the McShea Building in St. John Vianney Regional School.

Who teaches the classes?

Miss Shankweiler, the Director of Religious Education at St. Catharine's and the Religion Coordinator at St. John Vianney Regional School, is the instructor.

Why is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children a two year process if the adult process is only one year?

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Children at St. Catharine's strives to meet children where they are and share the Catholic faith at their level. Because of this, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children requires more time to cover the material that would otherwise be covered at a faster pace with adults.

I just enrolled my child in PREP (or in St. John Vianney Regional School), does my child still need to attend the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children in order to become Catholic?

Yes, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children is necessary in order for your child to become Catholic.

What is the difference between a candidate and a catechumen?

A candidate is an individual who has received the sacrament of Baptism in another Christian faith, but wishes to be received into the fullness of the Catholic Church through the reception of the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. A catechumen is an individual who has not been baptized, but wishes to become Catholic and will therefore, receive all three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist).

Children who were baptized in the Catholic faith, are beyond 2nd Grade, and wish to receive First Penance and First Communion, are neither candidates nor catechumens. These children are participating in the classes for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children as a means of tutoring in preparation for the reception of First Penance and First Communion.

If I enroll my child in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children, when will my child receive the sacraments/"become Catholic"?

Children who have been baptized in another Christian faith (candidates) will receive the sacrament of Penance during Lent of their 2nd year in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children. They will receive the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation at the Easter Vigil, which will be the culmination of the two year process.

Children who have never been baptized (catechumens) will receive the three sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil, which will be the culmination of the two year process. Catechumens will not receive the sacrament of Penance before receiving the sacraments of initiation because Baptism washes us clean of all sin. Once children have received the sacraments of initiation, they are invited to participate in the sacrament of Penance, which is offered on Saturdays before the 4:15PM Mass and every morning from 7:30AM-7:55AM.

Children who have been baptized in the Catholic faith, but are beyond 2nd Grade and wish to receive the sacraments of First Penance and First Communion will receive First Penance during Lent of their 2nd year in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children. They will then receive First Communion at a Sunday Mass in May of their 2nd year in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children.

My child attends St. John Vianney Regional School, but we are not registered parishioners at St. Catharine's, can my child attend the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children at St. Catharine's?

No, children should receive the sacraments of initiation at the parish which they are registered members. Through the sacraments of initiation, the child is being welcomed into the family of God, which is made visible through the parish family.



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