Personal bit here - I’m a Christian teen looking at becoming Catholic.

As I’ve studied what that would look like, I have struggled to find resources for people in my situation. All I really are resources for atheist adults.

This gave me an interesting question. What are the differences in The process for a non-catholic Christian to become a Catholic as opposed to an atheist or non-Christian to become a Catholic?

  • 3
    One difference is that a non-Catholic Christian might have already been validly baptized and therefore wouldn't be baptized again by the Catholic church. Oct 16, 2021 at 22:12

1 Answer 1


The main difference are the rite of initiation, the time of reception into full communion, and the sacraments given. A good article is from a Catholic Answers tract: How to Become a Catholic. This answer is based on the tract, and describes the process for adults and children who have reached the age of reason (age seven).

The Rite of initiation & instructions

The amount and form of preparation depends on the individual's circumstance. If they have never been baptized they will be asked to undergo the rite of reception into the order of catechumens which begins about a year's worth of catechetical instructions in the RCIA program. At the beginning of Lent, the unbaptized will go through the rite of election. Afterwards, they will participate in three chief rituals known as scrutinies for self-searching and repentance during which they are formally presented with the Apostles' Creed and the Lord's Prayer.

But if the non-Catholic Christians have been baptized, they would not be treated as catechumens. They will still receive instructions depending on the need.

The time of reception

For the unbaptized, the time of reception is usually the Easter Vigil (the evening before Easter Day).

For the baptized, they can be received at a Sunday Eucharist.


Non-Catholic Christians that have been validly baptized (the most important element being the use of the Trinitarian formula), will not receive the sacrament of baptism again, but will be asked to confess mortal sins committed since their baptism in the sacrament of reconciliation. On the day of reception they will receive the sacrament of confirmation and the Eucharist. If the validity of the baptism is in doubt, they will receive conditional baptism.

For the unbaptized they will first receive the sacrament of baptism at which point they formally become Christians, prior to the administration of the sacrament of confirmation and the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

  • Interesting! So if you gave it your best guess, what would it look like for my situation? I was baptized in a non-denominational church at age 6 (I think it could have been 7 but my memory is fuzzy). I’m 16 now. What do you think it would entail for me? If you don’t know that’s okay.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 16, 2021 at 23:46
  • @LukeHill I recommend you visit the parish where you would like to attend and talk with the priest or the office staff there about your situation. They probably will ask for some evidence of baptism as well as assess what kind of preparation you would need. They will also ask whether you have a Catholic family member / friend who can be your sponsor. If you don't have one they will provide one from the parish. If they plan the reception near Easter they would ask you to go to a 2-3 day retreat. This info is from a friend in Southern California. Maybe it varies from place to place. Oct 17, 2021 at 0:12
  • Thank you! I plan on visiting a parish at some point anyway as my family is looking for a new church.
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 17, 2021 at 15:39
  • @LukeHill Great! 3 more points: 1) RCIA usually starts in Sep (ex: calendar from a Chicago parish); 2) You may be asked or given the option to choose a confirmation name depending on the diocese; 3) It's a good idea to start going to mass (but without receiving communion) to be familiar with the liturgy and to confirm your decision. Oct 17, 2021 at 16:53
  • 1) Isn’t RCIA for adults? Or would I still be required to take it (obviously I don’t have an issue and probably want to but I am curious). 2) All I’m gonna say: Aquinas (kidding kidding but probably) 3) yup
    – Luke Hill
    Oct 17, 2021 at 17:28

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