How Long Is the RCIA Process?

I have read the time it takes to complete RCIA is anywhere from one to two years. So which is it? Would a “Cradle” Catholic go through the classes in less time than converts, or does it depend on who is teaching the class?

When I was RCIA it was for a year. We had weekly classes for 2 hours. Depending on how many times the class meets and how much information they go through would depend on how long the RCIA class lasted. I was a cradle Catholic who was never confirmed, but there were others who were of different backgrounds who completed it in a year too. Usually the non-Catholics who are in RCIA pick up the teachings just as well as Catholics because they have already researched it the faith. Hope this helps.


At the NO churches I’ve attended, RCIA is usually a little shorter than a school year. Classes start up in August or September, and then most people join at the Easter Vigil mass.

As far as “speed” in going through the classes, it probably depends on your priest. Many parishes use RCIA because it is convenient. However, my husband and I joined the Catholic church without going to RCIA. The classes were offered at the church we attended, but we had done a lot of reading and research prior and much of what the classes covered we had already studied. We spoke with our priest privately, one-on-one, instead. We met with him the first time in August, and joined the church three months later in November.

One to two years is correct . . and it does depend mostly upon the priest. It is also correct that each “year” of RCIA corresponds to a typical school year, beginning in September and going until Easter Vigil, at least that is the way it happened at my parrish. I started the RCIA process November 2001, and because I did not receive a full year, continued the next year and was received into the Church Easter vigil 2003. However, my two oldest children, who had been baptised in the protestant church we attended before my conversion, were also received easter vigil 2003, with only one year of CCD and decision rested in the judgement of our priest.

Each situation is different, having all manner of circumstances that make it hard to say what is going to happen in each case. Normally, one to two years, but all at the discretion of the priest.

I will always value the time I spent in preparation, deeply longing to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. While it seemed pure torture at the time, waiting produced tremendous growth in virtue. Also, my sons would not have been able to come with me had I been received after only a partial year in RCIA.

What is your reason for asking? Is this for yourself or for someone else?

For some individuals the RCIA can last for several years. This is because it is a process rather than a programme. The important part of the process is that the person who comes into the RCIA is helped and encouraged to develop a personal relationship with Christ.

People will sometimes drop-out, especially during the initial ‘Pre-Catechumenate’ phase. That is OK. Indeed, to be expected. This is the period when initial evangelisation is still going on and people are still discerning whether becoming a Catholic is really what they want.

Most programmes I know of, do usually go from September to July because school holidays (in UK) are mid- July to beginning September ansd so it is easy to organise.

RCIA isn’t meant to ‘stop’ when the individual is baptised, Confirmed, takes First Holy Communion. The period of Mystagogia’ should mean that the ‘Neophytes’ still attend weekly until Pentecost. Thereafter they are supposed to continue to meet monthly in their own small group until the first anniversary of their Initiation. I know of few Parishes that can keep this level of committment up however.

It takes as long as it takes. No time limit. No deadline. You can stay in RCIA as long as you need to. When the Holy Spirit has prepared you, you will be received into the Church. Do not be in a hurry. Let him do his stuff.

Thank you for sharing your story. I’m a Baptized Catholic who will be attending RCIA this year and I really look forward to it. I’m only in a rush to get started! I have the longing to receive Communion and I certainly wouldn’t want to be hurried or receive it before the time was right and I was ready. The whole purpose of the experience to me would be to “do it right” as it would make my journey all the more rewarding. I spoke with the lady (she has run the program at my parrish for the last fifteen years) and she said it’s a year-long program. I do have a lot to learn, but I am a quick study and of course very interested in the subject matter!

Would it be helpful to pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to start my studies early? I’d like to get a head start and there is so much to learn.

BTW, my wife’s grandfather who was not Baptized Catholic or even a churchgoer (he used to wait in the car while his wife attended Mass) finished his “training” rather quickly. He is a senior citizen and I recall him joking that the Pastor put him on the “fast track” and he was Confirmed rather quickly as I remember it. I would ask him about it, but my wife and I are keeping my going back to the Church a surprise (we refer to it as “The Big Secret” :smiley: ) until just before I am Confirmed.

My husband and I both went through the RCIA process together. We started in RCIA in November 2002 and the class had already started so we went to our RCIA class on Mondays then had a “catch-up” class/meeting with our priest on Fridays and then had mass on Sundays!! We were really involved!! But I must say it was all worth it. We had our first communion and confirmation (we were both already baptized through the Methodist church) at the 2003 Easter Vigil mass. We have never been happier. Joining the Church for us felt like coming home!! :wave:

Our parish goes from Labor Day until Pentecost, and the last five weeks are very important. We have to stress that, though, so people keep coming back. They often see Easter Vigil as a “graduation” of sorts. We then have “mystagogia in the park” during the summer after, which is very unstructured, but it offers a touchstone while they are beginning to integrate their faith into their lives. The thing we try to stress is that they must take responsibility for their continued growth, and to assume they are “done” and to quit studying is an easy transition to begin to fall back away.

[quote=Steve-o]Would it be helpful to pick up the Catechism of the Catholic Church in order to start my studies early? I’d like to get a head start and there is so much to learn.


Would it? You betcha! I can’t imagine going through RCIA without it – although some program directors are chary of allowing ordinary laymen to read it (!). In my parish the *Catechism *is on the index of forbidden books because “people might use it as a weapon.” I say, “What better weapon could they have?”

Do not pass another day without this splendid book on your coffee table where you can pick it up and read it a little each day.

If you want to get into it sooner, go here:

The Barnes & Noble across the street from me carries the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I’ll be getting it as soon as this horrible thunderstorm clears… :thumbsup:

It really depends from parish to parish really. I went through RCIA at the catholic center and parish at my university, so everything on the schedule is really made to fit around you as a student. So there would be no meetings when we would be off for school holidays, ect. Usually, if your just a convert, it would last maybe 2-3 months at my parish. If you were a catachumen, it would last for a year and then you would get 3 sacraments at the easter vigil.

I imagine that most regular parishes are a bit different. Even after RCIA, mystagogia, usually lasts for a year. But ours only lasted for a few weeks.