The process for children who are unbaptized wanting to enter into the Catholic Church is the same as adults. For children this is a process of at least 2-years with formation in stages- Inquiry, Pre-Catechumenate, Catechumenate, Enlightenment and Mystagogy stages. The child then receives the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil Mass with the adults. Children also enter into Elementary Faith Formation with their peers.
The Church understands that people approach the Catholic Church for a variety of reasons. That is why the RCIA process begins with what is typically called Inquiry, a time to learn basic teachings of Catholicism, find answers to questions, and begin to experience the community life of their parish church. For the unbaptized who are ready to make a formal commitment to learning the faith and preparing for the sacraments, the Rite of Acceptance is celebrated (a similar ceremony called the Rite of Welcoming is for the baptized).
The next period is called the Catechumenate and is a time of learning and more intense preparation for Catholic life. Corresponding with the season of Lent, the unbaptized enter into a period called Purification and Enlightenment by participating in the Rite of Election with their bishop (a similar ceremony, the Call to Continuing Conversion is for the baptized).
This culminates in the Easter reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Those who were previously baptized sometimes are received into the Church at this time and may also be admitted into the Church at another time of the year according to their readiness.
Following initiation, new Catholics go through the period of Mystagogy which normally coincides with Lent. This is a time to deepen understanding and participation in the sacraments.
The message delivered by the angels to the shepherds who kept their flocks near Bethlehem echoes to this day:
Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
We invite you to respond to this good news and consider becoming Catholic!
For children who are baptized of another faith, the sacraments of Holy Eucharist and Confirmation are received at the appropriate age with their peers. They will also be presented with the Creed and make a Profession of Faith at the Mass that they will receive their sacrament at.
Lyssa Rollolazo – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org