Catholics/Not allowed to finish RCIA


Are lay RCIA leaders permitted to tell candidates who have been attending RCIA thatthey cannot continue because they don't always fill out their workbook? This just happened to my friend. He is heartbrokenbecause he has been taking conversion seriously and knowe the material but isn't a workbook person. Is there any recourse? He feels like the church has refused him: they said he could try again next year, but he is too hurt.

The answer really depends on the parish and the pastor of the parish.  If the pastor of the parish has delegated such authority to the RCIA leader yes he has this authority.

Not knowing the parish or much of anything about the RCIA class and what the expectations are it is not really my place to judge the actions of the RCIA leader. Your friend however I am sure could always talk to the pastor.  The pastor always has discretion if he feels it warranted.

I do need to caution you however: entering the Catholic Faith is serious business and not to be treated casually.  In the very early days of Christianity the process of becoming Christian was three years.  It took so long precisely because the Church wanted to make sure that the people knew exactly what they were committing to.  In fact becoming Christian in the first 300 years of Christianity would have been a sure and certain death sentence if you were found out due to the persecutions.  

The early Christians who converted were faced with a death sentence--and your friend is "not a work book person?" What does that mean?  If your friend has some kind of impediment that prevents him from being able to complete the work that is one thing.  If on the other hand your friend does not complete the workbook because it is not his "thing" that is another matter.  

If becoming Catholic is so important to your friend why is it so hard for him to complete the assignments? In short---if being Catholic is as important to your friend as you are leading me to believe---completing the workbook seems a small sacrifice.  It seems to me it needs to become his "thing" if he really wants to be Catholic.

You have to understand that the process of conversion is not just a "I want to be Catholic" and that is it.  There is a process and there are expectations. If I were the pastor and your friend spoke to me I would want to find out why he has trouble completing the assignments.  If I found there was some legitimate disability I would certainly take that into consideration.  However if I found out it is nothing more than your friend just does not like workbook kind of work I would have to challenge that just as the RCIA leader did.  

Think about it: all your friend is being asked to do is complete workbook assignments in a timely manner.  I don't think that is too much to ask for someone who claims being Catholic is important to them.  


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Father Dave Bechtel


I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.


I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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