How Do I Become Catholic?

Relevant Radio® exists to bring the beauty, goodness and truth of the Catholic Faith into the everyday lives of people who seek it, whenever and wherever they are. And it is such a joy when we hear from listeners who are drawn to the Catholic Faith through our programs!

Phoenix, a Protestant listener from San Diego, recently called in to Go Ask Your Father™ to inquire about how to become Catholic, as a result of listening to Relevant Radio. He said:

I have a question on how to become Catholic. It’s sounds kind of simple, and it sounds kind of strange, but I was born and raised Protestant – Lutheran, Baptist – and I have some very firm beliefs from that, but I never really learned or knew much about the Catholic faith. The only place I could turn was Relevant Radio.

I’ve been listening for about a week and a half now, and I’m fascinated and very curious. And I don’t know where to go to learn more.

Msgr. Swetland responded:

“We have a very similar background. I was brought up a Lutheran, and during the time when we lived in a town that didn’t have a Lutheran church my parents attended a Baptist church. And my dad’s extended family are Methodist, so we bounced around a little bit among the Protestant denominations. But mainly we were Lutheran, and I became Catholic in my 20s.

It’s great that God’s grace is working in your heart as you try to learn. What we believe as Catholics is that the Catholic Church has everything Christ intended us to have for our sanctification and our salvation. In other words, the Church that Christ founded subsists in the Catholic Church. Msgr. Steward Swetland

Now, we believe that other Christian denominations share a great deal in that truth, and they share in some of the means of sanctification and salvation. For example, because you were brought up Lutheran, you have been baptized. And so -while we would investigate to make sure it was done according to the norms of the Christian tradition – we are 99.9% sure that you were validly baptized. We recognize that.

We recognize that various ecclesial communities and other churches out there have some of the means of sanctification and salvation. But the fullness of them, we believe, is found in the Catholic Church. And that’s what you want to investigate. You want to investigate if that claim is true of the Catholic Church.

I think if you investigate it with an open heart and mind, as it seems you have, you’ll discover what I discovered. That, in fact, Catholicism has that fullness. It’s a great journey and a great adventure.

Probably the next step for you would be to find the parish closest to you, what would be your normal parish church. You might want to ask some Catholics you know or encounter.  If you’re in an urban area, like you are, there might be a number of churches very close, so ask where would be a good place for you to go to worship. And talk to the clergy there about beginning instructions.

Normally we receive people into the Church at Easter time. And we do take our time with the catechumenate and the candidates for full communion. We want to make sure that they do this prayerfully, and that they are well-instructed and well formed. So it usually takes the better part of a year to do that.

They might want you to be with them and start with the classes when they do it next year. In the meantime, you can be studying and praying. It took me the better part of three years to come into the Church. So there’s no rush in this, but at the same time you don’t want to delay beginning your formation, study, and prayer.

We have something called RCIA here in the United States, which is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and that program is run a little differently in various places, but mostly the same throughout the country. That’s the program where you will study and also have an initiation into the community that is the Catholic community.

If you are in the military, you might want to talk to your Catholic chaplain. That would be the best place to go if you are in the military and have a local chaplain. Sometimes for the military they do it a bit differently and they might do individual instruction rather than the RCIA program.”

Listen to the full conversation below, and please join us in praying for Phoenix:

Go Ask Your Father™ airs weekdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio.