Becoming Catholic (RCIA)
Have you -
- been worshiping with us, but never officially took the step to become Catholic?
- been away from the church ... and have now returned, but want to know more?
- been a Catholic all your life, but never celebrated all of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist)?
- joined us from a different background and would now like to find out more about the Catholic Church?
- just want to know more
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process of welcoming people who want to be full members of the Catholic faith community. This includes those who have never been baptized, those baptized in other Christian denominations, and baptized Catholics who have not received the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. RCIA is not a “class” but rather a journey of faith. Through the RCIA, adults grow in their relationship with God, become familiar with Catholic teachings and practices, get acquainted with people in the parish, and get involved in service within the parish or the wider community. In the company of a group of faith-filled parishioners who serve as the RCIA team and with other people inquiring about the Church, inquirers share experiences of prayer, faith-sharing, instruction, and discussion and discover how one’s faith could be nurtured with the Catholic tradition.
RCIA INFORMATION AND GLOSSARY OF TERMS
- RCIA: The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults—the process for adults who desire to become fully initiated members of the Catholic Church.
- Catechumen: A Person who has not been baptized
Candidate: A person who has been baptized into another Christian faith community. The term also refers to baptized Catholics who have not been fully initiated (receiving the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation).
- RCIA Team: A core group of committed Catholics who meet with inquirers on a regular basis. They serve as facilitators of the pre-catechumenate, the dismissal catechesis and have some responsibility for the extended catechesis during the catechumenate period. They serve as ministers of hospitality and help to deepen the inquirers connection with the parish community.
- Sponsor: Someone who accompanies the candidate or catechumen on his/her faith journey, participating in the sessions and celebration of the sacraments.
PERIODS OR STAGES OF RCIA
RCIA helps adults grow in their relationship with God, become familiar with Catholic worship, teaching and practices, get acquainted with people in the parish, and get involved in service. There are four stages in the process which may extend over one Church year.
1. Precatechumenate – The first stage is the Pre-Catechumenate or Inquiry period. During this time, inquirers meet with members of the RCIA Team to speak of their faith journey and its connection with the Gospel stories. This group meets weekly (Wednesday evenings).
The period of Inquiry is a time for:
- asking questions about the Catholic faith
- building community within the group
- developing a trusting atmosphere.
- examining God’s presence in our lives, past and present
- learning about prayer
- fostering conversion
2. Catechumenate – The second period is called the Catechumenate stage. This is a time to become familiar with the teachings of the Church and Catholic tradition and practices. It is a time for the growth of the catechumens and candidates’ faith and their conversion to God, of calling upon God in prayer, and of developing a familiarity with the Catholic way of life.
During this stage the catechumenates and candidates:
- “Break Open the Word”, or reading and discussing the Sunday Gospel
- Continue to build community within the group
- Get more involved in parish activities,Get to know the parish community
- Learn about the basic teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church.
We also discuss topics such as: Seasons of the Church, The Trinity, Who is Jesus, Sacred Scripture, The Incarnation, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mass
3. Purification and Enlightenment – During Lent there is a greater emphasis on prayer and reflection in preparation for The reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
We also discuss topics such as: Morality, Sin & Reconciliation,The Sacraments of Initiation:
Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, The Sacraments of Healing: Reconciliation
and Anointing of the Sick
4. Period of Mystagogy - This period lasts from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. It is the time when the new Catholics meet to reflect on all that they have experienced and to explore and deepen their understanding of the mysteries of the faith.
THE RITES OF RCIA
RCIA also involves Rites (rituals celebrated within the mass or other liturgical gatherings).
These Rites include:
Rite of Acceptance/Welcoming: At this Rite (within the mass) inquirers become catechumens or candidates. This ritual marks the beginning of the Catechumenate period.
Rite of Dismissal: On the Sundays following the Rite of Acceptance, catechumens are dismissed from the mass after the homily. They and their catechists take time to read, pray, and discuss the Sunday scriptures.
Rite of Sending: This Rite prepares catechumens for the Rite of Election. It takes place during the Sunday mass on the First Sunday of Lent. It’s purpose is to offer the parish’s support and approval for those who are ready to go to the Rite of Election or the Call to Continuing Conversion.
Rite of Election: This is a celebration of God’s call to each person who approaches the Easter sacraments. It is a diocesan celebration, usually in a Cathedral or the largest church in the diocese. It takes place in the afternoon of the First Sunday of Lent. At this Rite, the Bishop declares the Church’s approval of the catechumens and accepts those who have reached a state of readiness and decision regarding the reception of the sacraments of the church.