Becoming Catholic Adult Initiation

Thinking about becoming Catholic or just want to learn about Catholicism? The Catholic Church warmly welcomes you on this journey of exploration and discernment.

What is OCIA - Order of Christian Initiation of Adults?

This collaborative process of study, exploration, faith sharing, and faith formation is the first step in being fully initiated into the Catholic Church.

When do sessions meet?

The sessions will meet in small group cohorts which will be organized according to date & times that work best for participants. These cohorts meet weekly. Additionally, participants will be asked to attend Mass, retreats, and speaker seminar days.

What will I learn?

You’ll explore Catholic beliefs and practices, the beauty of our rituals and sacraments, and how to use prayer to foster a relationship with Christ.

Who attends?

Adults thinking about or just interested in learning about becoming a full member of the Church, and other OCIA team members.

When will I be initiated into the Catholic faith?

Those seeking baptism may celebrate the sacraments at the Easter Vigil. Those seeking First Communion and/or Confirmation may celebrate these sacraments during the Sundays of Christ the King, Epiphany, or Pentecost.


OCIA cohorts will meet throughout the year to learn about the Catholic traditions, share insights, and discern about their own personal journey.  Participants are asked to be present at cohort meetings.  We believe that the entire Catholic community at The Basilica of Saint Mary is your catechist (teacher) and therefore consider participation at weekly Mass and/or volunteering along side us in our ministries to be very important.  Inquirers are invited to be fully engaged and recognized. Additionally, participants are asked to meet and share regularly with sponsors to discuss and share their faith journey.

It is a process of study, exploration, faith sharing, and faith formation accompanied by specific liturgical rites.

During this process participants (called inquirers) are introduced to the liturgy, the teachings, and the life of the Catholic Church.

Who undergoes OCIA?

  • People who have never been baptized.
  • People who have been baptized in another Christian faith tradition and are now interested in the Catholic tradition.
  • People who were baptized in the Catholic tradition, but were not raised Catholic, and are seeking the sacrament of Confirmation.

Who leads the OCIA process?

The Coordinator of Sacraments, and a dedicated team of trained parishioners.

If I begin, do I have to become a Catholic?

No. We hope that you gain a deeper appreciation for and understanding of Catholic beliefs and practices. Beyond that, we respect the conscience and decision of every inquirer.

I think I'd like to begin but I’m still hesitant.

Feel free to contact the Coordinator of Sacraments, to discuss your particular concern or situation. There will be no obligation or pressure, and your confidentiality will be respected.

How does one become Catholic? 

  • Most Catholics are born into Catholic families and gradually come to share in the full sacramental life of the Church.
  • Others, who may have been baptized in a non-Catholic Christian church, have become Catholics after making a solemn profession of faith, being confirmed and sharing the Eucharist with the Catholic community.
  • And some, never baptized, have been initiated through OCIA: a process that leads to baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Church's annual celebrations of Easter and Pentecost.

What topics are discussed?

The sessions cover a broad range of topics because our Catholic beliefs encompass the whole fabric of our lives.

  • Scripture, Prayer & Sacraments
  • God, Son & Holy Spirit
  • Church history & the papacy
  • Mary & the saints
  • Church traditions
  • Conscience & moral decision making
  • Social Justice & solidarity

Can my spouse or significant other be my sponsor?

No. We do not allow spouses, significant others or relatives to sponsor you. We have found that it works better for someone else to be your sponsor. It is always good to have another point of view and someone who can be “hands off” during your conversion journey. Sponsors are only asked to share their faith with you and to support you throughout the year. If you do not know someone who is Catholic who could be your sponsor, we will provide one for you. Many of our parishioners volunteer for this ministry each year. 

Catholics who have been away for awhile. . .

  • Have you been away from the Church?
  • Are you drifting away?
  • Have you been hurt by the Church?
  • Are you confused or angry because of your "Catholic experience?"

Come and talk with us. We want to listen to your story. It will be confidential with no expectations. We promise just to listen and be there for you.

By the late third and early fourth centuries, how one became a Christian was very much established.

It involved a time of preparation and discernment spread over a long period of time (about three years). The actual initiation, celebrated during the Easter Vigil, involved immersion in water, a generous anointing with oil, and a sharing in the Eucharistic banquet.

During the sixth and seventh centuries the ritual declined as infant baptism became the norm. Eventually this process ended and was separated into baptism, Eucharist and confirmation.

The second Vatican Council restored this process and reintroduced the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA) with its beautiful rituals.

Questions? Please Contact:

Katie Wethli

Coordinator of Sacramental Preparation

Katie joined The Basilica staff in August 2023. Her previous roles include Director of Music at Saint…