Author Topic: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?  (Read 2101 times)

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Offline Rdunbar123

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Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« on: February 09, 2011, 06:17:28 PM »
I am taking inquiryclasses now what is the next step in converting?

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 06:23:52 PM »
This probably differs depending on various factors (bishop, parish, etc.), but fwiw here's how it went for me. Once I decided to convert, I talked to the priest of the parish I'd been attending, and he told me how I'd be received, and set a date. He then arranged for me to be catechized by someone on a one-on-one basis, and recommended some books to read. Then it was just a 6 month period of trying to live an Orthodox life as best I could...

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 06:36:32 PM »
There are special prayers a priest reads over you in church for the making of a catechumen. This is followed by more prayers and instruction.
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 06:56:18 PM »
I am taking inquiryclasses now what is the next step in converting?

Set up a face-to-face meeting with your priest and express to him your interest.

Offline Shiny

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 09:00:39 PM »
There are special prayers a priest reads over you in church for the making of a catechumen. This is followed by more prayers and instruction.
Never happened to me actually.

I know Orthodoxy isn't, well how can I say this "organized religion", but I truly wish they had more structure on being a catechumen. It's like I expressed interest to the priest in Orthodoxy, a little bit about myself, in an email then it took awhile for me to actually meet with him one on one. I told him the books I picked up and he was surprised, I think he assumed that I knew what I was doing.

Honestly this forum has provided alot ALOT of guidance that I am forever thankful for. The basics that I get is to read the Scriptures daily try to start with a prayer rule and try fasting a little bit. Try not to do too much too soon, it was very tempting for me but I needed to give it some time (and worldly forces were acting in opposition) to cultivate my faith.

Although I would say if you have any special questions on anything please email or talk with the priest. See if they can give you a guideline on things if you need it, but you'll find pretty quickly things aren't very structured. I don't like the approach necessarily, but at the same time it's very flexible. The more you put into it the more you'll get out of it.
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Offline Cognomen

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 09:29:27 PM »
It hasn't been a formal process for me either, RDunbar.  In fact, I'm not entirely sure I'm even a catechumen.  :) At my parish, I think it's assumed that if you attend the inquiry classes and worship services, then you are one.  I was quite surprised when a priest spoke to me about a potential date for Baptism. 
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2011, 11:05:05 PM »
Same here, there was no official catechumen service for me.

Offline Paisius

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 12:11:19 AM »
I am taking inquiryclasses now what is the next step in converting?


Whether or not your are formally made a catechumen will vary depending on the jurisdiction and parish. Our local OCA parish formally enrolls individuals in the catechumenate very early in their instruction, many months before they are received into the Church. I have never seen anyone made a catechumen in the local Greek parish and have only witnessed one extremely abbreviated (by Russian standards :P) chrismation.

Bottom line, express your wishes to the priest and he guide you on the next step.


Offline Alveus Lacuna

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 12:36:24 AM »
Our priest has people attend services and when they express interest to want to be members, he has a catechumen prayer service right before the liturgy for all to see so that we can be praying for them. There is an Introduction to Orthodoxy class once a week that the priest leads on Wednesday nights after Vespers where he goes over the basics of the Orthodox faith like the Mysteries and such, and also will take on topics that the catechumens want to know about. He requires that the catechumens wait for a full year after enrollment to be baptized, so if the period of inquiry was longer then some wait well over a year, sometimes two years.

He emphasizes that the services are the main teacher, so they are expected to come for Matins and Vespers as much as they can too to learn about the faith through the prayers. He is very thorough because he had seen many converts come and go over the years. Many people lose interest after the exotica wears off and the figure out that it's just the same prayers every week. Since he made the catechumenate last longer, the people that lose interest drop off somewhere during that year, and the ones that stay are spiritually enriched and matured when the time finally comes to be received. It teaches them patience, as well as the "slow and steady" pace of Orthodoxy which one needs to adjust too for all eternity. At least that's the way I interpreted it. It seems to work, as now people tend to stay for good after they are baptized. The catechumenate used to be for three years in the ancient church, and he tells people this when they start to get antsy about reception. I suppose it makes them feel like he's really letting it be quick!   
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:37:22 AM by Alveus Lacuna »

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 10:14:41 AM »
What Alveus said.

At my parish, there is an official service for the enrollment of the catechumen done before the Liturgy on Sunday. Generally, the catechumenate is a year.

I had a very long and involved inquiry (I was trying to convince my girlfriend at the time to convert with me, and didn't want to take any official steps for fear of further alienation). We broke up, though, so when that happened, I moved back into the area of my parish and requested official enrollment. I was enrolled the next Sunday, this last November (Sunday before St. Philip's Fast) and will have a shorter-than-usual catechumenate. I will be received into the Church by baptism on Palm Sunday. I was an inquirer for a little over a year prior to my enrollment into the catechumenate.

It's a shame that some churches do not have an official ritual for the enrollment of the catechumen. As baptism is union with the Church, like marriage (and, for those who do not know, there are many, MANY similarities between the baptism service and the marriage service) enrollment into the catechumenate is the betrothal. Traditionally, a catechumen who leaves the Church is considered apostate. If a catechumen dies, he or she receives an Orthodox funeral. The catechumenate is not an informal thing.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 10:15:28 AM by Benjamin the Red »
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Offline katherineofdixie

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 10:46:50 AM »
At our parish the process is similar, though individualized. If someone expresses an interest, the priest or the catechism teacher guides them to the weekly catechism class. (We actually have 2- sort of "Orthodoxy 101 and 102" but the classes are also open to members). At any point, the person can ask to become a formal catechumen or the priest or teacher may suggest it. After Liturgy, Father reads prayers and formally introduces the new catechumen to the parish. Our priest recommends and expects that catechumens will attend as many services as possible. After that, it's up to the individual and the priest.
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Offline Ortho_cat

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 12:32:18 PM »
It would be a nice gesture to formally announce to the rest of the parish who the catechumens are. The way it is now, only a few people know who I am or what I'm doing there. I think this would also keep the catechumens accountable to attend services in way.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2011, 12:42:22 PM »
The prayers for the making of catechumens are universal. The use of these prayers, sadly, is not. Perhaps they are not employed in superethnic parishes without a lot of converts? Or perhaps the priests who do not employ them have not been to seminary? Who knows.
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Offline smithakd

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 08:13:28 PM »
The prayers for the making of catechumens are universal. The use of these prayers, sadly, is not. Perhaps they are not employed in superethnic parishes without a lot of converts? Or perhaps the priests who do not employ them have not been to seminary? Who knows.

Actually, for better or worse, they're just not done in some jurisdictions.  Kinda like how the betrothal and the marriage service were made into linked services, the catechumenate and the baptism were made into a linked service as well.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 08:14:06 PM by smithakd »
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Offline blessedbeggar

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2011, 03:18:17 PM »
Though I am not yet a formal Catechumen, I am on my way...I hope. I have told my priest that I believe I am ready, but I will leave that to his discretion, which he replied that we will have a one-on-one soon to discuss. My advice to the original poster is this...speak to you priest. If you feel that you are ready to come into the Church, then you should also feel you are ready to accept him as your spiritual Father and accept his timetable for moving forward. I know that my priest has led a great many into Holy Orthodoxy, and I'm confident that he is prayerfully bringing me into the fold in the fashion that will help both I and our parish grow the best. I would think and hope for the same in your situation. Praise God for your inquiry into Holy Orthodoxy, and may you be blessed.

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Offline smithakd

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2011, 07:11:37 PM »
Though I am not yet a formal Catechumen, I am on my way...I hope. I have told my priest that I believe I am ready, but I will leave that to his discretion, which he replied that we will have a one-on-one soon to discuss.

@Blessed Beggar - I remember saying something along those lines to my priest.  In my case, it took another 15 months to be received into the Church.  Totally the right thing to do, even though it was frustrating for me at the time!
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Offline bogdan

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2011, 07:25:55 PM »
I had the official prayers read over me just before the end of liturgy one Sunday. Of course, that doesn't guarantee that people will actually make the connection. About 8 months later, a week after I was chrismated, a lady welcomed me and said how nice it was to have visitors. Lol.

The priest later said from then on, he would only make someone a catechumen if they had not already been baptized. That's something I strongly disagree with. What do you do if an inquirer dies? If they are a catechumen, they will be buried as Orthodox, but if not, they cannot be. But I digress; it's not my place.

Offline Benjamin the Red

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #17 on: February 12, 2011, 12:55:43 PM »
Though I am not yet a formal Catechumen, I am on my way...I hope. I have told my priest that I believe I am ready, but I will leave that to his discretion, which he replied that we will have a one-on-one soon to discuss.

@Blessed Beggar - I remember saying something along those lines to my priest.  In my case, it took another 15 months to be received into the Church.  Totally the right thing to do, even though it was frustrating for me at the time!

My priest told me about a year ago that he would receive me as a catechumen when I was ready. Last November I was enrolled into the catechumenate, and will be baptized this Pascha. I did not take the express lane into Holy Orthodoxy. :P

Of course, I also know some people who make my year and a half trip look like a mad dash. ;D
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Offline smithakd

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Re: Is becoming a catechumen a formal process?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2011, 05:17:45 PM »
My priest told me about a year ago that he would receive me as a catechumen when I was ready. Last November I was enrolled into the catechumenate, and will be baptized this Pascha. I did not take the express lane into Holy Orthodoxy. :P

Of course, I also know some people who make my year and a half trip look like a mad dash. ;D

Yup, and others that make it look like something was wrong :P

I'm an advocate of 9-18 months being a good length of time before baptism, though...it seems to be a rule that's worked for many people that I've seen come through.
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