Each year across each diocese there are people who enquire about becoming a Catholic, often with no previous religious affiliation. They are accompanied by RCIA teams who guide them through the different stages of the RCIA process and prepare them to celebrate the liturgies which mark these stages. Here is one young woman’s story of her journey this year. She was accompanied by members of the Wigan Pastoral Area RCIA team in Liverpool Archdiocese.

The decision to embark on my journey to becoming a catholic was not one that I made quickly or alone. My Fiancé, Chris, had always joked that I would have to become a Catholic if he were ever to marry me. Despite the jokes I knew that it was important to him, and so I made my decision.

I knew all about RCIA through my soon to be brother-in-law who went through the process a couple of years ago himself. He told me what to expect and I soon became excited to begin attending the sessions on a Tuesday evening. I had my doubts, and was convinced that I would have questions that would never be answered. I believed that I would enjoy the process of learning about Catholicism from an academic perspective, but expected little else.

Catholic Pictoral RebeccaMy very first week at RCIA completely turned my expectation on its head, as did so many of the sessions after that. I not only learnt a great deal about Catholicism and what my life as a catholic would entail in a practical sense, but more importantly I learnt much more about myself, and about the God that had been there for a long time – out of sight and out of mind, but there nonetheless. The catechists who so quickly became my friends showed me the path I needed to follow, but the rest was up to me.

As the weeks went by I realised that I was in fact on an important journey, and that my life was improving for the better – I was becoming a happier, calmer and more peaceful person.

On Sunday 31 January I was formally welcomed into the church I attend each Sunday since I moved to Wigan back in August. Whilst I had never been made to feel unwelcome, I always felt that I was not the same as everyone else – something was missing, and I was an outsider. That day I stood on the altar and proclaimed my desire to become a Catholic in front of my family and the congregation. As I stepped down off of the altar the whole congregation began to applaud. It was as though I had achieved something wonderful and I was touched that this group of people who did not know me so openly welcomed me into their community. I sat in the front row and as everyone moved to the front of the church to receive communion, people came to congratulate and welcome me. I was truly astonished at the reception I received.

On Sunday 14 February my family and I were welcomed to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool for the Rite of Election. I was joined by catechumens from across the diocese as Archbishop Malcolm welcomed us each in turn and invited us to enter our names into the Book of the Elect. The service was relaxed but that did not detract from the importance of the day. I felt proud to stand with my family and my friends behind me, my godparents at my shoulder.

Catholic Pictoral Rebecca 2During Holy Week I was lucky enough to return to the Cathedral and carry the Oil of Chrism to Archbishop Malcolm at the Mass of Chrism. It was a great honour to be asked to carry the oil, and an experience I shall not forget.

But none of these very special occasions compare to my baptism on Holy Saturday night, when at last I was received into the Church and received my first holy communion. I was nervous but I knew I had little to worry about and everything to look forward to. I stood once again on the altar in front of my closest family, my godparents once again at my shoulder. For me, Mass on Sunday was always a time in which I felt closest to God. But that day, and the following Sunday I felt as though I was truly celebrating, that I was a part of something much bigger and much better than myself.

If I were to offer any advice to anyone considering RCIA and becoming a Catholic, I would say this: come with an open mind and an open heart, and you will not regret it!

Rebecca Rollinson, St. Benedict’s Parish, Hindley This story first appeared in the Catholic Pictorial.

This story will also appear in the Becoming Catholic part of the website. If you have stories from your RCIA experience we would love to hear them. Many people look at the Becoming Catholic section every day and to have a variety of stories from people who have taken this journey would be a source of encouragement and hope.