Initiation in special circumstances

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I was asked a question from a nursing home resident who uses a wheelchair. For the past several weeks she has come with a couple of Catholic residents to our service. Today, both she and her friend asked what she needs to do to become Catholic. My immediate response was she would need to go through RCIA program. But given her condition, age (likely early 80s) and a nursing home resident, I’m not sure that was the best answer. I told them, I would find out and let them know. One important fact, she has not been baptized in any religion that she knows of.


A:  The RCIA has a section for initiation in special circumstances, but she would definitely need some kind of formation to make sure she understood what she was doing. If, in time, the pastoral care team believes that her interest is sincere and that her knowledge is sufficient, she may receive the three sacraments of initiation. She does not need to wait for Easter, given her condition. I suggest you contact the priest at the parish in whose boundaries the nursing home lies for additional advice. It also would be good to contact her family, just to make sure you have a correct understanding of the situation.