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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 23 May 2002

Catholic conversion QUESTION from Nicholas Liguori May 5 1999 Everyone on both sides of my family including my wife's family and son are Catholic. The only exception in that history was my mother who for reasons never revealed to me insisted I became a member of her protestant church. She was wonderful is every way so I never challanged her on this issue. I felt out of place attending her church and as I grew older I attended Catholic church regularly with the rest of my family where I felt much more comfortable relaxed and peaceful. My mother passed away twenty years ago and I always intended to convert however my family's long since forgot the matter and have assumed I've always been a Catholic all along. Indeed I've been active in my son's Catholic faith joining my family's attendance in church and helping in church activities. My entire community assumes I'm catholic with my activites in the local Catholic Hospital local Catholic College my membership in several Italian Organizations my aquaintance with most local priests just to mention a few. Considering my fmaily's Italian history and heritage no one would believe I'm not a Catholic even on several occasions when I've attempted to explain it to a few people. Now at fifty-two the urge to convert is greater and I need to resolve this matter now. I could resolve this matter locally but I don't feel it's necessary to inform the entire community of this personal story. I would like to know the process of conversion and where I could convert without local public attention. I very much appreciate your thoughts thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius on May 9, 1999 Dear Mr. Liguori:
May God be praised that you feel the tug of the Holy Spirit to convert. We welcome you into the Church that Jesus Christ Himself established and pray for you as you begin this journey. You will not be disappointed. I am a convert myself after 15 years as a Baptist preacher. I do not regret a single second of it. I have found HOME. You will too.
From your narrative, I am not sure what your current status is, so I’ll cover all the bases just in case.
In terms of the process:
...if you have not been validly baptized, you will need to be baptized and then confirmed in the Catholic Church; or

...if you have been baptized a Catholic, but never confirmed in the Church, or if you were validly baptized in a Protestant Church, then you will need to be confirmed in the Catholic Church; or

...if you are already baptized and confirmed in the Catholic Church, and are thus coming back (returning) to the Church, then your return is a matter of going to confession to cleanse your soul and doing whatever else the priest indicates you need to do (such as application for marriage nullity if needed, etc.) for your return to the Sacraments.
In terms of being not a Catholic and wanting to convert to the Church, normally a convert takes classes called RCIA (Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults). RCIA typically begins in the Fall, such as September or October and ends at the Easter Vigil when you are baptized (if needed) and confirmed.
RCIA is NOT a requirement, however. You may ask your parish priest for private instruction. It is your right to receive private instruction if you so desire.
In either case, taking RCIA or taking private Instruction, your personal life story does not have to be revealed to everyone. How much you tell about yourself to the community is TOTALLY up to you.
What you need to do now is to contact the pastor of a Catholic parish near you and make an appointment with him to discuss your desire to convert.
Should it happen that the pastor of your nearby parish is not receptive (it shamefully happens sometimes), then seek out another priest in another parish.
This is your first step. The priest when then discuss with you the specific process you need to go through to complete your conversion and be fully received in communion to the Catholic Church.
We will be praying for you.
God Bless.
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