All invited to learn about Catholicism

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, September 26, 2012

St. Mary Basilica will offer a Thursday evening study series of Catholic beliefs and practices beginning with an overview and introduction this Thursday.

This is the study program through which individuals who are interested in the Catholic faith learn about the church, its beliefs and practices as they discern whether they might want to join in full membership with our church community. A guided tour of St. Mary Basilica will be given from 5:30 to 6 p.m., and the overview will be given 6 to 7:15 p.m. in the new Family Life Center.

Catholics wishing to update their understanding of the faith are invited, and during 15 years since this process was begun at St. Mary, large numbers of the church members have participated. The principal texts that give the background for the lectures will be the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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The instructional aspect of this study program known as Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults will be each Thursday evening. The fall phase of the study program, beginning this week, and ending Nov. 29 will focus on the Apostles Creed. These presentations will address the Catholic understanding of God as creator, as redeemer and as Holy Spirit. Also addressed in these lectures will be topics such as the nature and mission of the church, prayer and life everlasting. There are no strings attached to attendance at these sessions.

At the end of the first phase, individuals who are interested in further studies and who may be interested in becoming full members will be invited to participate in the second phase. This phase, from Dec. 6 until Feb. 7, will address the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders, Reconciliation and the Anointing of the Sick. These are the sacred rituals through which Catholics believe that God works in people’s lives.

The third phase of the study series, from February until Easter, will deal with the Ten Commandments and their application to our lives. Beginning with their foundation in the Old Testament, this phase will explore how the teaching of Christ can be applied to the advances and developments of modern times, such as medical technology, nuclear warfare and ecology.

The final phase, from Easter until Pentecost, will focus further on prayer, spirituality and what it means to be a Catholic Christian. Participants will be familiarized with the Scriptural foundation of the Church’s teachings as well as the creeds, decrees of church councils and special documents from church leaders. The different phases of the RCIA will attempt to dispel the myths and misinformation that surround the church.

Participants who are considering becoming members will be expected to attend one of the worship services, called the Mass, each weekend. Special information on the format, history and meaning of the Mass will be given to them. Participants will also be encouraged to develop one or more styles of personal prayer.

Meetings will begin with a light supper that is served from 6 to 6:30 p.m. in the Family Life Center, and the lectures begin at 6:30 and are followed by a short practical application. A short break for fellowship and dessert will take place and final discussion, and questions will conclude at 8 p.m. There is no registration fee, but pre-registration is encouraged.

Babysitting will be provided. Anyone who needs further information may call the church offices 601-445-5616 (St. Mary), 601-442-7250 (Assumption) or 601-445-5700 (Holy Family).

An invitation is hereby extended to all interested individuals.


The Rev. David O’Connor is pastor of St. Mary and Assumption parishes in Natchez.