Being baptized into Christ is not like graduation.  It is not the end of a process. In many ways it is more like marriage, since it is the beginning of a lifelong process that only gradually unfolds.  Exploring the existential meaning of the professed baptismal covenant may be seen as like those moments in a marriage when you both want to do some serious work on your relationship.

The seven weeks between Easter and Pentecost are a crucial component in the catechumenal process. It is the period in which the catechumenal team and the whole community continue to walk with the participants as they try both to figure out what this momentous event of Baptism or Reaffirmation means and to discern more deeply its implications in their daily lives.

One of JBL’s interdenominational groups has developed “Ecumenical Rites for the Adult Catechumenate.” The last 44 pages focus on “mystagogy,” a Greek name that means “unfolding the mysteries.”  This resource is available on the Journey to Baptism website.  The section on mystagogy provides a description of an integrated catechetical and liturgical process for this unfolding.

The section begins with two sessions built around reliving the moments of the awesome rites of Easter and then moves towards pondering the future for the newly baptized and those who reaffirmed their baptisms.  There are suggestions on how to help them discern what vocations exist in their lives and what gifts God has given them to carry out those callings. There are also suggestions about how they might bear witness during Sunday worship — how the Spirit’s grace has been at work within them; how they might be blessed in their challenge of discernment.  All of this can lead up to the Affirmation of Vocation on Pentecost.  Much has been written on this period of the catechumenate, including some material on the discernment process.  The suggestions in the “Ecumenical Rites for the Adult Catechumenate” are new and very practical.

If you can’t do it all this year, look and see how you might help new and reaffirmed Christians continue, like the disciples at Emmaus, to experience a new relationship with Jesus in Word and Sacrament.

Go to, click on Resources, then scroll down and click Worship Resources, then click on Adult Rites for the Catechumenate. In the table of contents, you will find a whole section entitled Mystagogy.  While you’re at it, take time to peruse the entire Leader’s Guide, but this is the moment to prepare for the seven weeks of Easter!


The next JBL Community Chat:  “Easter: Living Into Our Baptism”

Tuesday, March 15th at 7pm CT.

So Easter has come, and the baptismal candidates have been baptized, and the reaffirmers have renewed their baptismal covenant. What do we do now?

How do we accompany them as they begin to live out that covenant? How do we help them discern what specific vocations the Spirit has called them to? And what gifts has the Spirit given them?

JBL has online a process for the Fifty Days of Easter that should help lead them from Easter to Pentecost as they prepare for the Affirmation of Vocation., Resources, Worship Resources, Ecumenical Rites, Mystagogy

The Rev. Dr. Susan Forshey of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary who helped design the process will lead our discussion on Tuesday, 15 March, at 7 pm CT. Join us with a readiness to ask questions and share experiences.

To participate register at  Put “Community Chat” in the subject line and your name, phone number and time preference in the body of the text.  We will send you a Zoom link and your homework assignment nearer the date of the Chat.

Community Chat: “Calling to Baptism (and Enrollment) on Feb 8

The next JBL Community Chat is on Tuesday February 8 at 5:00 pm or 7:00 pm CT

Topic:  Lent 1 – Rite of Calling to Baptism (and Enrollment)

–How can this rite be more prayerful for the participants?

–How can it be more prayerful for the congregation?

–What role could the community play in immediate preparation?

–What has worked for you in the past?

To participate register at  Put “Community Chat” in the subject line and your name, phone number and time preference in the body of the text.  We will send you a Zoom link and your (brief) homework assignment nearer the date of the Chat.

These chats are well worth your time!

From Dan Benedict:  The first community chat sponsored by Journey to Baptismal Living…stretched me toward clearer thinking about the first rite.”

Community Chat: The Rite of Enrollment — FEB 8 @ 5 or 7 PM

Register at  Put “Community Chat” in the subject line and your name, phone number and time preference in the body of the text.  We will send you a Zoom link nearer the date of the Chat.

Bryan Hansen’s review of our last Chat:

Last October I participated in the JBL zoom conversation on the proposed ecumenical rite for what is commonly known as the Rite of Welcome or Rite of Acceptance. The proposed rite is called The Rite of Receiving Hearers. The crafters of the Rite explain the change in the introduction:

We receive as hearers those how are responding to a call to “come and hear” to discern whether and how the Spirit may be moving them toward a life of discipleship to Jesus.  At some point along the way, some hearers become ready to take on a more intensive formation in the life and way of Jesus.

Along with others in the zoom meeting, I appreciate this change. From my experience, naming this threshold moment The Rite of Welcome can confuse the seekers and the assembly. Instead of welcoming seekers to the worship of the assembly, the name and tone of the welcoming rite may seem to seekers and members of the assembly like joining the congregation. The perception isn’t helpful so far in advance of the Easter Vigil with its baptism and renewal of baptism. Also, in a post-modern age where a lot of people entertain a variety of spiritual options, committing to a congregation early on doesn’t usually fly. To receive a hearer reduces the pressure to become part of the community.

There is a good deal of flexibility in the proposed rite and the rubrics are very clear.  In this rite, each seeker is asked their name and then is asked “what are you seeking?” with the provision for having them state their desire “in their own words.” Hooray! I started this practice in the last two calls and it has gone very well. Most recently, the responses have varied from a person reciting several sentences to the simple response of “I want to sing!” By personalizing this response, the needs of the seeker are heard by catechists and sponsors and the entire assembly. It is a way to respond to seekers with their real expressed needs.

The greeting which may be done at the door of the church then moves to words of instruction for the hearer and promises made by seeker, sponsors, catechists, and assembly. The first question to the catechumen is “Do you turn to Jesus?” Great question! Later in this part of the rite, when the assembly is asked to lend their support, their response is an enthusiastic “Yes, I am ready!” It is a nice feature of the rite.

The next part of the service is the marking with the sign of the cross and then the presentation of the Bible. Both gestures are viewed as a way to help prepare seekers to hear the Word of God with the community. The next element in the rite includes the option of dismissing catechumens from the assembly. Given pastoral circumstances and diverse practices from our various traditions, making it an option seems wise.

One way the ecumenical rite differs from many others is that it occurs   during the Gathering/Entrance Rite and before the Liturgy of the Word. In the ELCA Welcome to Christ rites, the greeting and presentation of candidates occurs at the beginning of the liturgy and the signing of the cross and handing over of the Bible follows the sermon.  In our conversation last October, we applauded this change. Receiving the bible as a hearer prior to the Liturgy of the Word makes good sense. So does the signing of the Cross, as it imprints a new identity upon the hearers now brought into the company of the assembly and ready to worship with the assembly.

This rite has been constructed for catechumens (unbaptized adults). What about the people seeking to affirm or renew their baptismal vows? We spent a good deal of time in discussion around this issue. The Lutheran rites have made provision for affirmers, and this has been the practice at Phinney for years. In my experience, most people who participate in the Catechumenate come as seekers already baptized, seeking a new parish home or returning to the church after a long absence. Compared to those who seeking affirmation the number of catechumens is small. This rite is clearly for adults seeking baptism. A question we discussed in our meeting was, “how do we receive affirmers?” Michael Marchal and Thomas Schattauer, both contributors to this fine work, assured us that the topic is under discussion.

I hope many more will participate in future conversations about the proposed ecumenical rites. The JTBL team responsible for these rites deserve our deep appreciation and participation!

Bryon Hansen


Community Chat– The Rite of Enrollment

The first community chat sponsored by Journey to Baptismal Living on Zoom was a gathering of liturgical scholars, catechumenal practitioners, and recent participants in the church’s ancient-future way of making Christians. For me as a practitioner in a local church, the reflections by Dr. Tom Schattauer stretched me toward clearer thinking about the first rite: welcoming hearers/catechumens. Listening to the responses of someone who had recently moving through the process and now shares in leading the journey with others in her church grounded the theory in the messiness of actual implementation. Pastor Bryon Hanson of Phinney Ridge raised helpful observations from his many years with the catechumenal process. I found that this kind of struggle and reflection on the rite and aiming to see it afresh most helpful. I look forward to the next community chat on the rite of Calling to Baptism (& Enrollment). Join me in growing and learning.

The next community chat will be scheduled February 8 (tbd) on the Rite of Enrollment in order to give everyone a chance to reflect on the discussion before Lent 1. As Dan Benedict points out, everyone is welcome because everyone has their own experience to share.
Once again, using JBL’s ecumenical version of the rite, we will reflect upon the theology of the rite and its core symbols, especially the role of the congregation. We will move through the steps of the rite, discussing both what we have experienced and possible enhancements. Denominational differences are an important part of the discussion.
We will be assisted in the conversation by Rev. Taylor Burton-Edwards, a liturgical scholar, former denominational worship staff, and currently an ELCA pastor.

Make plans to join in!


Receiving Hearers — The First Rite of the Catechumenate Process — Let’s Chat

We are all familiar with the scenario.  At Sunday coffee hour you talk to a new person.  During the conversation, he/she expresses an interest in finding a church home or becoming a member or finding out more about what Christianity is all about.  However the statement is phrased, we are talking to a “seeker,” to someone looking for something in their life that will satisfy a yearning and give meaning and direction to their life.  We introduce them to the head of the catechumenate who finds a time to meet with them and talk about how we can best accompany them on their faith journey.

There is no congregational rite to begin inquiry,  this first phase of the catechumenal process.  However, when a seeker is coming to the end of inquiry, when they show the beginnings of real faith in Christ and a desire to walk in his Way, then they have reached a threshold and need a public ritual that locates them and their search within the context of the community.

There are various names for this ritual: RC — Accepting a Catechumen, ELCA – Welcome to Baptism, ELCIC – Welcome of Those Preparing for Baptism, TEC – Admission of Catechumens, ACC – Welcoming Inquirers, UMC – Welcoming Hearers.  One of the ancient titles for the rite was ad faciendum catechumenum, a rite for making a catechumen.  That title brings out an important point about what is happening in this rite.  Just as we cannot baptize ourselves, so we cannot make ourselves a catechumen/hearer.  Rather, we present ourselves to the Christian community for acceptance and prayer as our journey continues.

Too often we who live in the remnants of Christendom in North America still presume an exposure to and an understanding of Christianity that is lacking.  Moreover, we do not want to be inhospitable so we gloss over the need for a serious commitment on the part of the seeker and on the part of the community.  These days an adult seeker might be looking for a serious transformation of mind, heart, and lifestyle as they come to live within a congregation.

In JBL discussions,  while assembling the ecumenical composite rites (Cf. Resources – Worship Resources- Ecumenical Rites), we chose not to use the term “welcome” for this rite since it seemed too vague: what is the seeker being welcomed to? We also thought that “catechumen” was too elaborate.  The straightforward word “hearer” seemed most appropriate.  “Hearer” describes the core of this phase of the catechumenal process that the inquirer was entering.  Now they would be directly challenged, week-by-week, to let the Word take root in their hearts and bear good fruit in their lives.

We also chose to emphasize the head-to-toe signing with the cross as an excellent example of “truth-in-advertising.”  Walking the Way with Jesus will bring each of us to our cross.

As the time draws near for your community to celebrate this rite with seekers of Baptism this year, you will find a discussion of the new “Ecumenical Rite of Receiving Hearers” helpful.  JBL is offering a “Community Chat” on this ecumenical rite on October 27 at both 6:00 and 8:00 pm CST.  Choose whichever time is best for you.   Register at ; put “Community Chat” in the Subject line and your name, phone number and time preference in the body of the email.  We will send you a Zoom link near the date of the Chat.





JBL has developed a new on-line course, “Catechumenate Basics: Methods, Rites and Reflections on the Way.”  The course includes 4 interactive classes:

  • Presentation 1
    • Part 1:  Introduction and Overview of the catechumenal process
    • Part 2:  Inquiry: Evangelization, Exploration and Discernment of one’s search
      • Recognizing and meeting inquirers
      • Structure and content of an inquiry meeting
      • Sponsors
      • Discernment for moving to the catechumenate
  • Presentation 2
    • Part 1:  Forming a Hearer/Catechumen as a Christian
      • Video of the Rite of Receiving/Welcoming Catechumens
      • Review of your denomination’s Rite of Welcoming
      • Overview of the Catechumenate Period
    • Part 2:  Catechesis and Discernment of the desire for Baptism
      • Structure and content of a catechumenate meeting
      • How to lead a catechumenate meeting
      • Discernment to enter the Period of Intense Formation
  • Presentation 3
    • Part 1:  Intensive Formation of Baptismal Candidates
      • Video of the Rite of Calling to Baptism
      • Review of your denomination’s Rite of Calling/Enrollment
      • Overview of this period
    • Part 2:  Catechesis and Readiness for Baptism
      • Structure and content of a meeting during this time of intense preparation for Baptism
      • Methods for reflection on Lenten Gospel readings
      • Rites during this period
  • Presentation 4
    • Part 1:  Integration:  Christian Formation of the Newly-baptized
      • Video of the baptismal rites
      • Overview of this period
    • Reflective Catechesis and Discernment
      • How to lead reflection on the Sacraments
      • How to lead discernment and reflection meetings

Each class is 1-2 hours in length, including a break.  The Zoom course includes viewing and discussion of the major transitional rites of the catechumenate process.  The trainer covers methods, scripture study and suggested prayers.  There is ample time for discussion of the methods and content of catechumenate ministry.

The course cost $200.00/person.  Each group will include 6-9 students and a trainer.  JBL limits the number of participants to 10 in order to allow for better interaction among participants. The trainer is a JBL member with years of pastoral experience in catechumenate ministry.  The trainers will also be available for consultation as you start this ministry in your congregation.

If you want to start the catechumenate in your congregation, this course is a good place to start for you and your team.  If you want to review your catechumenate ministry, this course will provide an overview to help that review.

For more information, please send inquiries to:

DISCERNING OUR WAY; An Update on Your Board’s Progress

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are all, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end
without delay.                      From “The Slow Work of God”  Teilhard de Jardin.

As we noted in late July, the Journey to Baptismal Living Board has been meeting in August and September to discern where JBL should go from here.  We recognized that we are at a crossroads and have this opportunity to do some assessment and visioning.  We have met through Zoom every two weeks.  We have asked for your input and many of you have responded.  Thank you!  This is an update on our progress and another request for your input.

We first determined a group discernment process that recognized the challenges of remote meetings.   As with many journeys, including those involved with the catechumenate, naming the initial question was very important. After prayer and discussion, we agreed that the question is “God, how would you have JBL enrich the catechumenate?”  Prior to addressing this question, we shared why the catechumenate is important to each of us.  My summary of that discussion is that we find the catechumenate process transformational for us and for the congregations in which we minister.  We witness the Holy Spirit working through this process.

At our next meeting we shared why JBL is important to us.  How have we experienced JBL’s supporting our ministries?  JBL is the North American interdenominational organization for catechumenate ministers.  By sharing our experiences in various denominations, we enrich each other’s ministries.  Through sharing rites, we find flexibility in how we celebrate the conversion process.  We learn from one another.  We invite experts in worship and catechesis who provide insights into this ministry.   We support one another.   And we know that there are many of us scattered throughout North America who find support through Journey to Baptismal Living.

Now we are discussing what the desired outcomes for JBL could be.  How do we continue to share, to support, to invite, to gather?

Your Board needs your support as we continue our discernment.  We need your input and your prayers as we move forward.  Please send your comments, insights and ideas to or to  Please keep us in your prayers.

Meanwhile, other JBL work continues.  Both the Eastern and Western Conversations on the nature and content of the period of Mystagogy are advancing.  We look forward to reports in the near future.

Thank you.  Be safe.  Be at peace.

Jerry Paré; Board Member


Journey to Baptismal Living is at a crossroads. For JBL, the pandemic has sharpened our awareness of the need for a new vision.  We now see that the model of annual gatherings and workshops may no longer be viable and that this organization requires restructuring.

Nonetheless JBL is important as the organization through which all of us promote the power of the catechumenate in many denominations. It is important as the organization in which we find support for one another in this ministry, in implementing the catechumenate and in building up the Body of Christ.

It is time to journey on.  Most of us have guided seekers along the way.  Now it is time to guide each other.  We ask your help in visioning what a new JBL might look like.  How would you like to see JBL move forward?  Here are some questions that may help you as you consider your response:

  • What aspects of JBL are of most value to you?
  • What are some specific ways JBL can support catechumenate ministers in the next 5 years?
  • How might JBL use modern technology in our ministry, for example Webinars? Podcasts?  On-line workshops?
  • How might we obtain the financial resources necessary to support the ministry of the JBL?
  • Who can you recommend as a board member of JBL?
  • What is your vision for JBL as we journey forward together?

The JBL Board is having a series of meetings to review your responses and continue discernment on the future of this organization.  Your input is critical!  Our next meeting is July 22nd.  Please respond through the comments section below or directly to Jerry Paré at  If you can respond by July 22nd, great!  If not, we still want to hear from you.

One final request:  Please keep the JBL Board members in your prayers as we take this moment to discern the path we travel.

Thank you!

Climbing Down from the Crow’s Nest

When I became President of Journey to Baptismal Living, I adopted the crow’s nest of a ship as the vantage point from which I would lead. From the crow’s nest on a ship, you can see both where you have been and where you are going.  JBL is like a ship that floats on baptismal waters. For many years it has visited ports of call through training, workshops, and an Annual Gathering of Catechumenate Practitioners. The winds are shifting across our land and it is time for a new course to be set. It is time for me to leave the crow’s nest and for someone new to look back to where JBL/NAAC has been and steer the ship in a new direction.

From my vantage point, it is clear that training must adopt a new format, primarily online. Our congregations have been thrust into new ways of being communities of worship in the time of a pandemic. It was not sought after or planned for but the need opened up many new ways of being church.  As a society, and indeed, around the globe, we do not yet know what “normal” will look like in a post-pandemic time, but we are living into it day by day. JBL must be pro-active, living into this new normal.

The catechumenate is deeply rooted in personal relationships among people of faith and the sensory actions of the rites centered within the gathered worshipping community. Again, the pandemic requires a deep reimagining of how personal distancing will re-form the process within congregational practice.

Current JBL works in process include the continued development of trans-denominational rites, the development of a short-term course to introduce the process to seminary students, and the development of online videos to reach a number of audiences.  The monthly blog and enews are the primary outreach tools at this time.

As the winds shift, it is time for new leadership, so I am stepping down from the JBL Board.  JBL needs a leader with the skills to address these emerging needs and continue to guide the ship into the future.

Thank you for allowing me to captain the ship for this brief time.

Living in hope and buoyed by baptismal waters,

Bev Piro

Outgoing JBL President