Catechesis: Instruction in the Faith
At San Rocco, catechesis of adults takes place as preparation for marriage, baptism, and profession of faith with First Holy Communion.
Couples planning for marriage meet privately with the rector, if possible, with another couple or two; then they take part in one of the many programs offered by the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Parents preparing to have their child or children baptized meet privately with the rector, at their convenience. Babies are baptized during Mass or apart from Mass, at the parents' choice. Most infant baptisms to date have taken place during Mass. It seems that people not only don't mind; they're happy to be involved.
Those preparing for adult baptism would normally take part in the RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults; however, to date at St. Rocco we have had only two persons, Jon Niemi and Paul Preuss, go through this process as such. For a time, they were catechumens, whom we prayed for publicly at Sunday Mass. They were also publicly given a Bible and a copy of the Creed. At the proper time, in the same celebration, they received all three sacraments of Christian initiation, in proper order: baptism, then confirmation, and then first Holy Communion. Such is the policy for the RCIA within the Archdiocese of Chicago and in the Roman Rite around the world.
Those already baptized, preparing to become Catholic, do so in a group of eight to twelve people. In general, it takes about two or three months of weekly meetings, with some prayer, for people to be ready for confirmation and first Holy Communion. Some people need less time; some, more. In 2001, only Jackie Petrelli finished and was welcomed into the Catholic communion by Cardinal George. In 2003, Rose Granno, Dave Hilgen, and Monica Prisco were similarly welcomed on Holy Family Sunday. Jon Niemi was baptized, confirmed, and given First Holy Communion on January 4, 2004. Ray Thomas was confirmed and given First Holy Communion on February 1, 2004. November 27, 2005, Paul Preuss completed his catechesis and was baptized, confirmed, and given First Holy Communion.
We used two textbooks. The first was Outlines of the Catholic Faith, a question-and-answer booklet, something like the old Baltimore catechism. It's clear and tightly organized, with a useful appendix of familiar prayers. The second text, a better read, was The Complete Idiot's Guide to Catholicism, already in a second edition. This book, said the participants, was actually fun to read. The style is informal and direct, with clever illustrations and graphics. Some people in the group liked the book so much, they said, they couldn't put it down.