Rite of Welcoming for Baptized Candidates: Comments & Suggestions

August 08, 2007


Photo credit: Mike Jenssen


Easter VigilCandidates for reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church, who were baptized in another Christian communion but are uncatechized, may celebrate a ritual that welcomes them into the community at the beginning of their catechetical process.

Remember: Baptized candidates who already have a relationship with the community and have been catechized in the Christian faith do not have to enter into a lengthy period of catechesis. 

The Rite of Welcoming is found in the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) ritual book under the heading "Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist."  (My references here to the RCIA ritual book are to the United States edition.)  A few paragraphs of introductory notes are found at paragraphs 411- 415.  We are reminded that these candidates are to be treated differently from any who are unbaptized in order that there is a clear acknowledgment of their status as people who are already baptized.

The outline of the Rite of Welcoming parallels the outline of the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate.  Because of these similarities, it is possible to combine the two rites and celebrate them together (see paragraphs 505-529 of the RCIA).  The texts differ in order to make a clear distinction between baptized and unbaptized candidates.

Welcoming the Candidates and Opening Dialogue

At Mass, this rite takes place as part of the Introductory Rites after the opening music.  Candidates are seated with the gathered assembly, possibly in a reserved section near the front.

The presider gives a word of welcome to the candidates and explains what is about to take place (para. 417).  He invites the candidates and sponsors forward.  The names of the candidates are given, and they are questioned about what they are asking of the Church.  Just as with the Rite of Acceptance, candidates may give an answer as in the book or they may give a more personal answer (para. 418).  (See notes under "Opening Dialogue" in my article on the Rite of Acceptance.)

Candidates' Declaration of Intent and Affirmation by the Sponsors and the Assembly

Candidates are then asked to declare their intention to continue in prayer and study.  There is an option to adapt the question so that it more closely mirrors any particular responses the candidates have given (para. 419).  Sponsors and all those gathered declare their willingness to support and pray for the candidates on their journey (para. 420).

Signing of the Candidates with the Cross

Just as with the Rite of Acceptance, candidates are now signed with the Sign of the Cross on the forehead (paras. 421-422).  Signing of other senses is optional.  However, this signing can be quite moving for the candidates and their sponsors and for the rest of the community witnessing the action, so using the complete texts for signing other senses is recommended (para. 423).

The presider prays a concluding prayer using either the opening prayer for the Mass of the day or the prayer in the ritual book (para. 424), the latter of which reads:  "In baptism these your servants accepted the sign of the cross: make them living proof of its saving power and help them to persevere in the footsteps of Christ."

Liturgy of the Word

The presider speaks briefly about the importance of the word that will be proclaimed; then the Liturgy of the Word proceeds in a regular fashion.  If the Rite of Welcoming is at Mass, the readings of the day are used.  If the rite is celebrated outside Mass, other suitable readings may be proclaimed.

There is an option for giving candidates a bible after the homily.  The Profession of Faith is said on Sundays and solemnities.  The General Intercessions follow, which include prayers for the Church, the world, those who are burdened, and the local community.  One or more of the intercessions should be for the candidates, using either the texts in the ritual book (para. 430) or composing original texts.

A brief prayer concludes this section of the rite.  At Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist continues as usual. Outside of Mass, the assembly is dismissed after the prayer.

At a Mass where catechumens are also present, the catechumens may be dismissed after the homily to go to another place and discuss the day's scriptures.  Some parishes also dismiss the baptized candidates.  Candidates might find value in these discussions; however, they are not required to leave with the catechumens.

Vicki Klima was the Director of the Worship Center for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for nearly 20 years.  She currently works at a parish in Eden Prairie, MN.


Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens: Comments & Suggestions

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