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In the early church, the catechumenate lasted for a period of three years. Adults preparing for baptism were known as catechumens. They attended services of readings, instructions, and prayers. These services concluded with the laying on of hands by the teacher, even if the teacher was a lay person. The teacher was known as a catechist. Those who proved themselves worthy by their lives and understanding were admitted as candidates for baptism several weeks before Easter. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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