Rite of Christian Initiation
Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands of men and women are received into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new members through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and at a liturgy bringing men and women into full communion with the Catholic Church. Listed below are some questions and answers about RCIA.
RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults
RCIA is our ministry for those exploring the Catholic faith for the first time. Our program serves individuals who would like to explore becoming a member of the Catholic Church. The process begins with an inquiry session that allows candidates to explore how the program can serve their needs.
This process serves as a beautiful journey for:
· Adults who have never been baptized.
· Christians who wish to learn more about and convert to the Catholic faith.
RCIA - Children - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults adapted for Children
RCIA - Children is our ministry for any children who are past the age of seven and have not yet received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
RCIA - Teens - Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults adapted for Teens
RCIA adapted for teens is our ministry for teens ages fourteen to eighteen who wish to celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
The RCIA process has several distinct stages. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development itself, so this article will fit you whether or not you're actually in the RCIA process.
Inquiry: the initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. You're asking questions and checking it out, but aren't yet ready to commit.
Catechumenate: those who decide to enter the Church and are being trained for a life in Christ are called , an ancient name from the early Church. In this stage, you're developing your faith and are being "catechized" — learning catechism, or the basic points about Catholic faith and life.
Purification and preparation: The Church will help you focus and intensify your faith as you prepare you to commit your life to Christ and be received into the Church at Easter. If you're following the RCIA process, you'll go through a beautiful series of Gospel-based meditations during Lent, which is the time frame of this period.
Initiation itself, the culmination of the whole process! You're received into the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass, where you'll receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist.
Mystagogy: after reception into the Church at Easter, this period lets you reflect and learn more about the mysteries of the Mass and the Sacraments that you now participate in fully.
It is the church's way of ministering sensitively to those who seek membership. For that reason some people will need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership in the Catholic Church. Sometimes those who come into the RCIA have issues regarding marriages that must be addressed and annulments that must be obtained before they can come into the Church.
If you or someone you know is interested in more information about becoming Catholic please call the Dcn. Rudy Sepulveda Jr. to make an appointment with you to discuss your life story and discern if there is any marriage or other special issues that may affect your participation in the RCIA journey. You will then be on your way to becoming or completing your initiation into the Catholic faith.
The RCIA Team
Although it is the role of the entire parish community to evangelize and catechize, it is important to form a RCIA Team whose members directly assist the catechumens and candidates in their process of conversion, by walking with them on their journey. While the most important role for every member of the Team is to be a witness to their faith, the RCIA Team is composed of parishioners who desire to serve in the ministry of initiation by taking on different roles and responsibilities. The RCIA Team consists of the following ministries:
The role of the coordinator is to oversee the RCIA process by gathering the Team together and coordinating people, schedules, meetings and ideas. “Some tasks include understanding the vision of initiation; developing ways to inform and involve the parish, parish groups, and the staff; recruiting and forming a team; and working with those who express an interest in becoming Catholic.”
The role of the catechist is twofold; it involves both answering the questions that catechumens and candidates have about being a Catholic, and instructing them concerning the teachings of Christ and the Church. The catechist should have a good grasp of Catholic Doctrine, and also be comfortable with using a process of facilitation that enables participants to reflect upon Sacred Scripture and the Catholic Faith.
The role of the sponsor is to be a guide for a person as he or she journeys through the RCIA process. The sponsor provides support and encouragement to the catechumen or candidate, is an example of what it means to live as a committed follower of Christ, and is the person who acts as a witness to the community concerning the readiness and willingness of the candidate. Of all the roles, the sponsor is the one who develops the most important relationship with the candidate, as together they make the journey of faith toward initiation.
The ministry of hospitality is central to the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, because it is important for the catechumens and candidates to feel that the community is looking forward to the time when they will become members. The role of those involved in hospitality is to be hosts and hostesses for the candidates, making them feel welcomed by preparing the environment and refreshments for the sessions, and also for the times when other members of the parish may gather to meet them.