A nine-month course in the basics of the Faith and its practice. The Catechumenate meets one evening each week for an hour and a half over that nine-month period. The study is led by a team including a member of clergy and the Parish Catechist. The course culminates in either Confirmation, Reception, or Renewal of Baptismal Vows.
The goals of the Catechumenate are:
For more information on Confirmation, Reception, Renewal of Baptismal Vows or the Catechumenate Class, contact Deacon Michele Whitford.
Catechumen - n. a person under the instruction in the rudiments of Christianity. *("teach, make disciples, scholars of them"; "teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you." Matthew 28:20). It is clear that some sort of preliminary instruction must have been given to the converts. The type, process, and length of the courses have varied widely through history.
(from the book of occasional services - the book of common prayer)
The catechumenate is a period of training and instruction in Christian understandings about God, human relationships, and the meaning of life, which culminates in the reception of the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.
The systematic instruction and formation of its catechumens is a solemn responsibility of the Christian community. Traditionally, the preparation of catechumens is a responsibility of the bishop, which is shared with the presbyters, deacons, and appointed lay catechists of the diocese.
Principles of Implementation
The Catechumenate is marked by three stages.
Stage 1: The Pre-catechumenal Period. To this stage belong inquirers’ classes with sufficient preparation to enable persons to determine that they wish to become Christians. It is a time during which those who have been initially attracted to the Christian community are guided to examine and test their motives, in order that they may freely commit themselves to pursue a disciplined exploration of the implications of Christian living.
Stage 2: The Catechumenate. Entry into the catechumenate is by a public liturgical act (which may take place for individuals or groups at any time) at the principal Sunday liturgy. Normally, the act includes signing with the cross. To this stage belong regular association with the worshiping community, the practice of life in accordance with the Gospel (including service to the poor and neglected), encouragement and instruction in the life of prayer, and basic instruction in the history of salvation as revealed in the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. This stage will vary in length according to the needs of the individual. For those persons who, although unbaptized, already possess an understanding and appreciation of the Christian religion, it might be relatively short.
Each person to be admitted a catechumen is presented by a sponsor who normally accompanies the catechumen through the process of candidacy and serves as sponsor at Holy Baptism.
Admission to the catechumenate is an appropriate time to determine the name by which one desires to be known in the Christian community. This may be one’s given name, a new name legally changed, or an additional name of Christian significance.
From the time of admission, a catechumen is regarded as a part of the Christian community. For example, a person who dies during the catechumenate receives a Christian burial.
Stage 3: Candidacy for Baptism. To this stage belong a series of liturgical acts leading up to baptism. These ordinarily take place on a series of Sundays preceding one of the stated days for baptism and involve public prayer for the candidates, who are present at the services as a group, accompanied by their sponsors. When the Sacrament of Holy Baptism is administered at Easter, enrollment as a candidate normally takes place at the beginning of Lent; when baptisms are planned for the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, the enrollment takes place at the beginning of Advent.
In addition to these public acts, this stage involves the private disciplines of fasting, examination of conscience, and prayer, in order that the candidates will be spiritually and emotionally ready for baptism. It is appropriate that, in accordance with ancient custom, the sponsors support their candidates by joining them in prayer and fasting. A fourth period immediately follows the administration of Holy Baptism. In the case of persons baptized at the Great Vigil, the fourth period extends over the Fifty Days of Easter. This period is devoted to such activities, formal and informal, as will assist the newly baptized to experience the fullness of the corporate life of the Church and to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of the Sacraments. The bishop, the bishop’s representative, or the rector (or priest-in-charge) of the congregation should preside at the rites of Admission and Enrollment.