What should we do with people who just want to be baptized without participating in any formation sessions or rituals? Some people are shy and do not want to be put on the spot. Should we just baptize them because they desire it, or do we put them through an individual program, ignoring the benefits of the community? Or do we just let them walk away as they go looking for another church?
My suggestion would be to first assign a very strong, trust-inspiring sponsor to such person. The sponsor’s job would be to be constantly present and reassuring to the seeker.
You might also adapt the way you hold your catechetical sessions so the seeker never feels put on the spot. For example, the seeker, the sponsor, and a couple of parishioners who are friends of the seeker (or will become friends of the seeker) might meet regularly for coffee and talk about questions the seeker has.
That might go on once a week for several months until the seeker feels ready to share some thoughts with a little bit larger group. When the seeker is finally ready to take the next step, the Rite of Acceptance could be celebrated at a smaller Sunday liturgy, like the early morning Mass or the Saturday evening Mass. If even that is too scary, it could be celebrated at a weekday Mass.
I think part of the seeker’s spiritual journey has to be to find a way to share his or her faith publicly, even that sharing is in very small and safe environments. The reason to baptize, after all, is to initiate catechumens into the mission of sharing the gospel with others.
What do others think? How have you handled a shy seeker?
2 thoughts on “Does RCIA work for shy people?”
I had a very quiet young lady inquire a couple of years ago. I would meet with her before our sessions and we talked alot about her life. She had a lot going on. We kept doing this, she’d come early, help me set up and we’d talk. She’d sit during our sessions and once in a while share, which was fine. She was comfortable with that and so was I, you have to meet them where they are, and listen to their stories. I think that’s what they need a lot of the time, to feel comfortable with someone and to know that we all have “stuff” and it’s ok. She continues to call me occassionally and is now inquiring about having her baby baptized.
Thanks for sharing this story Anne. Sounds like you are doing a terrific job!