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You’re invited to learn about Catholic church

Beginning Thursday evening, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. St. Mary Basilica Parish will offer the Miss-Lou community an opportunity to learn more about the beliefs, practices, and history of the Catholic Church.

The program will involve a tour of the worship space of the Basilica with an explanation of the meaning and use of the objects and items in the space, as well as discussion of some common misconceptions about what the Catholic Church believes and teaches.

This program and is open to everyone who wants to know a little bit more about this beautiful church and what it represents.

The following Thursday, Sept. 24, is the start of the study program known as the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). This program is designed for a number of different audiences: adults who are searching for a church home and are interested in learning more about Catholicism; those who are seeking more information about the Catholic Church, but who are not necessarily interested in becoming a member at this time; people who were formerly connected with the Catholic Church through Baptism and who wish to return to the active practice of Catholicism; and people who are already practicing Roman Catholics and who wish to update or refresh their understanding of the faith.

The RCIA program meets weekly on Thursday nights in the Family Life Center on Main Street across from the Basilica. The program will start at 6 p.m. and end by 7:15 p.m. It will consist of a presentation by an instructor followed by discussion and a question and answer period. By diocesan directive masks will be worn and social distancing will be observed.

The fall phase of the program will consist of presentations based around a phrase by phrase explanation of the Apostle’s Creed, including our understanding of faith, the nature of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our understanding of Church as the Body of Christ, and our beliefs about death, judgment, and the End Times.

At the end of November, those who wish to continue will begin a study of Catholic worship (the Mass) and the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Sacraments are the sacred rituals through which Catholics believe that God works in people’s lives in a special way.

The third phase of the study series begins in February and continues through Easter. This series deals with the Ten Commandments and their application to life today. It will explore how the Commandments shaped the life and teachings of Jesus and how His teachings can be applied to our daily lives, as well as to the developments of modern times such as advances in medical technology, nuclear and biological warfare, and environmental issues.

The final phase of the program begins with Easter and continues until Pentecost. This phase focuses on prayer, spirituality, and deepening one’s relationship with God.  It also contains discussion of the practical aspects of living life as a Catholic Christian and being a member of a parish family. Each phase of this program will honestly address the questions of the participants and attempt to dispel any myths or misinformation regarding the Catholic faith.

This invitation is open ended. There is no expectation of any of the participants, and individuals may withdraw at any time. There will be no pressure placed on anyone to make any kind of commitment to the Church. There is no charge. A book will be available for purchase by those who want one, but it is not necessary to have one to participate in the course. Although it is not necessary to register for the program,  we ask that anyone who is planning to come please call the church office at 601-445-5616 so that we will have an idea of number of participants in order to set up the room to ensure proper social distancing.

Ruth Powers is the Program Coordinator at St. Mary Basilica Parish in Natchez.

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