A Roman Catholic presence in the Shenandoah Valley since 1932

I am a baptized Christian

I was baptized earlier in my life.

The person who baptized me may have been a minister or not, who either poured water on my head or immersed my entire body in a pool, and used the words "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." I also practiced the Christian faith for a number of years as a member of another church community.

And now I want to be Catholic.

As a baptized Christian, you are already a member of the Body of Christ. Although you do not yet share full communion with the Catholic Church. your baptismal dignity gives you certain rights in the assembly of the baptized. If you join us for Mass, you have a place with us as we listen to the Word of God proclaimed and preached. You may also take a place among us during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, but should not approach the Table to receive Communion until you are formally received into full communion with us.

Full communion is a term that expresses our sharing in three significant aspects of life as Catholic Christians.

The first significant aspect is our profession of the same Christian faith, enshrined in the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed, which we proclaim publicly at Sunday Mass. Many Christian communities profess one or other of these creeds regularly.

nicene creed

The second significant aspect is our recognition of the same sacraments. A majority of Christian churches recognize the validity of each other's baptism, as long as it is done using water and the words of the Trinitarian formula are spoken. For this reason, baptism is never repeated. Other sacraments, though recognized by members of the same church like Holy Eucharist and Marriage, may not be considered as sacraments by those of other churches. Currently, Roman Catholics are in full communion with 23 Eastern Rite Churches (Uniate) and recognize each other's sacraments. At the moment, we do not share full communion with churches of the Protestant Reformation. But significant dialogues are taking place between the Catholic Church and these Christian communities that hopefully will lead to mutual recognition.


The third significant aspect is our recognition of the same legitimate pastors. The Roman Catholic church was founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ himself on the rock of the faith of Simon Peter the apostle. And we regard as most vital our unbroken connection to Peter and the current Bishop of Rome through the succession of legitimate pastors (Apostolic Succession) on account of which we share communion with one another. The Reformation in the 1600s caused a rupture in the legitimacy of pastors and ministers of churches that broke communion with the Bishop of Rome, and called into question the validity of their ordination and the sacraments they celebrate. At the present time, several dialogues are occurring between individual churches and groups of churches, as we work toward greater understanding of the things that unite us.

apostolic succession