If you are already a follower of Christ and wish to enter into full communion with His Church, or if you are already a believer in one God and wish to become a follower of Christ and a member of His Church, or if you are a person of good will and wish to know the Creator of the Universe and accept His plan for you, then we at Saint Mary Parish in Oak Ridge invite you to join us, and we are eager to welcome you when you arrive. We want to hear your story, and to share ours with you.
We fully respect whatever Christian, spiritual or intellectual tradition has nourished you thus far in your life, and we are honored now to offer you the riches of the Catholic Faith handed down to us from the Holy Apostles—the first leaders—of Christ’s Church.
What are the rites of initiation?
If, after exploring the Catholic Faith with us, you choose to join the Catholic Church, then you will experience the prayerful Rites of Initiation. A “rite” is a celebration during which the Church worships God as he sanctifies us.
The rites of initiation, which include the Initiation Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion, are celebrations of divine worship that particularly sanctify those persons who seek membership in the Catholic Church. The Sacraments of Initiation, and the other initiation rites, are joined with informational sessions, fraternal sharing, and other events to form the process of becoming Catholic, which can take up to a year, culminating at the Vigil of Easter.
What is the Easter Vigil like?
The Easter Vigil takes place on Holy Saturday, the evening before Easter Sunday. The Holy Saturday Liturgy begins with the Service of Light, which includes the blessing of the new fire and the Passover Candle which symbolizes Jesus, the Light of the World. The second part consists of the Liturgy of the Word with a series of Biblical readings.
After the Liturgy of the Word, those to be baptized are presented to the parish community, who pray for them with the Litany of the Saints. Next, the priest blesses the water, placing the Passover Candle into the baptismal water. Those seeking Baptism then renounce sin and profess their faith, after which they are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. After the Baptism the newly baptized are dressed in white garments and presented with a candle lighted from the Paschal Candle.
They are then confirmed by the priest or bishop who lays hands on their heads, and invokes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He then anoints them with the oil called Sacred Chrism. The Mass continues with the newly baptized participating in the Bidding Prayers and in bringing gifts to the holy altar. At Communion, the newly baptized receive Holy Communion for the first time.
What is meant by “coming into full communion” with the Church?
Coming into full communion with the Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for already baptized Christians. These individuals make a profession of faith but are not baptized again.
Candidates for this reception participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. The preparation for Candidates is different from the preparation given to those who have not been baptized, since Candidates are already committed to Jesus Christ and many have been active members of other Christian communities. The Candidates are usually received into the Catholic Church on a Sunday during the Easter Season.
Is there a ceremony or preparation for Catholics who never or seldom have practiced the faith?
Fully initiated Catholics who drifted from the faith may return now through the Sacrament of Penance.
Baptized Catholics who never completed their initiation may participate now in a period of formation to receive Confirmation and Holy Communion.