“Catechumenate” Cata-what?!

What is this catechumenate thing? Yep! It is a big, five syllable word. Don’t let it scare you. You can say it: “cat-eh-que-men-ate”. It comes from the Greekkatecheo from which we get the word “echo” like thunder in a canyon rumbling and resounding. It can mean oral instruction. There are several related words: catechumen, catechist, catechism.

  • A catechumen (cat-eh-que-men) is an unbaptized youth or adult in whom the Word of God, Jesus, is resounding, rumbling, echoing. A catechumen is a person receiving formation and instruction in the Word of God. In modern parlance, a catechumen is an apprentice Christian.
  • The catechumenate is a period of formation and instruction in Christian understandings and practices related to God, human and beyond-human-relationships, and the meaning of life, culminating in the reception of the Christian sacraments: baptism, anointing (confirmation), and reception of Holy Communion. Another way to say it is Christian initiation into behaving, believing and belonging to and with Jesus and his followers, the church.
  • A catechist is a person the community has called to guide the catechumens, and a catechism is an outline of beliefs and teachings of the church.

Why do the catechumenate? Becoming Christian is like changing your country of residence and citizenship. You have to learn to navigate a new culture, speak a different language, act in different ways, and form new relationships. In short you enter a whole different orientation to life. The only way to learn to be a Christian is to experience it over time with other Christians. Faith may dawn in a moment, but the ability to practice it and belong to the Kingdom/Kindom of God comes over time. So, one way to see it is apprenticeship. The catechumenate gives you opportunity to see if this life is for you before you finally commit to it.

At the Cathedral of Saint Andrew we welcome people to inquire about the way of faith and life we know in Jesus Christ, and, when there is readiness, we welcome people as “catechumens”—hearers of the Word of God exploring the Christian way of life and journeying toward the sacramental life.

Do you really call it the catechumenate? Yes, because it is a gift and inheritance from the missionary church of the 2nd-6th centuries CE. We too are a missionary people and, like the ancient church, we are a minority population in the dominant culture. By the Holy Spirit they pioneered this way of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

However, at the cathedral, we use another name for it: EMMAUS JOURNEY. EMMAUS JOURNEY reminds us of the story in Luke 24 of Jesus joining two people who were walking down the road to Emmaus, wondering about the rumors that the crucified Jesus was alive. Then at the table, Jesus breaks the bread and they recognize him. So, we invite people who are on a faith journey to walk together toward discovery and joy in Christ Jesus.

Does it take a long time? It takes as long as it takes! We do not rush. A year or more is optimal. Usually the catechumenate takes most of a year. Here are the four periods of the catechumenate

Pre-catechumenate inquiring, asking questions, telling stories considering it
Catechumenate participating in worship, prayer, study and compassionate action trying it
Candidacy final preparation for the sacraments through prayer and conversion of the will thirsting for it
The rest of your life daily living your baptism in communion with the church living it

Each period or time transitions with a rite: Welcome, Enrollment, and Initiation.

What if I am already baptized? If you were baptized in infancy or another time in childhood, but you have not been formed in the Christian discipleship, then we invite you to share in the journey of formation with the inquirers and catechumens. However, we will always recognize your belonging to Christ in baptism and, when there is mutual discernment of readiness, we welcome to membership.

What if I am already confirmed? We invite to you journey toward membership following a path appropriate to your situation.

  • If you were confirmed in an Episcopal or Anglican church, we invite you to reaffirm your faith and be welcomed to the cathedral community.
  • If you were confirmed as a Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, or Orthodox Church we invite you to prepare for reception as a member of the Episcopal Church, the Anglican communion and a member of the cathedral.
  • If you were confirmed denominations other than those mentioned above we invite you to prepare for confirmation in the Episcopal Church and membership in the cathedral community.

When does EMMAUS JOURNEY start? While we welcome people to this journey any time during the year, the more structured process begins in the fall and continues through the spring. The climax of EMMAUS JOURNEY is Easter, when candidates are baptized, confirmed and admitted to Holy Communion.

Whom do I speak with if I have questions or I want to participate in EMMAUS JOURNEY? You can speak to the Dean of the Cathedral at 808-524-2822 or email

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