The Catholic Church holds that there is one eternal God, who exists as a mutual indwelling of three persons: God the Father; God the Son; and the Holy Spirit, which make up the Trinity. Catholic belief holds that the Church “… is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth.” To Catholics, the term “Church” refers to the people of God, who abide in Christ and who, “… nourished with the Body of Christ, become the Body of Christ.”
The Church teaches that the fullness of the “means of salvation” exists only in the Catholic Church but acknowledges that the Holy Spirit can make use of Christian communities separated from itself to bring people to salvation. It teaches that anyone who is saved is saved indirectly through the Church if the person has invincible ignorance of the Catholic Church and its teachings (as a result of parentage or culture, for example), yet follows the morals God has dictated in his heart and would, therefore, join the Church if he understood its necessity. It teaches that Catholics are called by the Holy Spirit to work for unity among all Christians.
According to its doctrine, the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The New Testament records the activities and teaching of Christ’s appointment of the twelve Apostles and giving them authority to continue his work. The Church teaches that Jesus designated Simon Peter as the leader of the apostles by proclaiming “upon this rock I will build my church …I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven …” The Church teaches that the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, in an event known as Pentecost, signaled the beginning of the public ministry of the Church. All duly consecrated bishops since then are considered the successors to the apostles, and they hand on the Sacred Tradition received from the apostles.
According to the Council of Trent, Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church.
- Reconciliation (Penance)
- Anointing of the Sick (formerly Extreme Unction or the “Last Rites”)
- Holy Orders
- Holy Matrimony.
Sacraments are important visible rituals that Catholics see as signs of God’s presence and effective channels of God’s grace to all those who receive them with the proper disposition (ex opere operato).
Catholics believe that Christ is the Messiah of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecies. In an event known as the Incarnation, the Church teaches that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, God became united with human nature when Christ was conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Christ is believed, therefore, to be both fully divine and fully human. It is taught that Christ’s mission on earth included giving people his teachings and providing his example for them to follow as recorded in the four Gospels.
If you are curious about the Catholic faith or ever thought about becoming a Catholic, our formation program for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is just for you. Adults from all faith traditions or from no religious background at all are welcome to participate in the RCIA formation program. Sessions are ongoing.
For the unbaptized, the RCIA has four stages. The first is a period of Inquiry. During this stage candidates for baptism are invited to ask questions about the Church, share their own faith experiences, and decide whether they would like to continue or not. The second stage is the Catechumenate, during which the candidate is introduced to liturgy, faith-life, and Tradition. The third stage is the Enlightenment and Purification. This takes place during the Lenten season with intense prayer and study on the part of the individual as well as the parish community. It climaxes at the Easter Vigil with the sacraments of initiation--Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. The fourth and final stage is the Post-Baptismal Catechesis (Mystagogia). This stage continues from Easter to Pentecost and focuses on the mysteries of Christ’s death and resurrection, and helps the newly baptized to develop a deeper understanding of their faith.
Please visit our page on becoming catholic or contact the parish for more information about RCIA.