RCIA - Becoming Catholic
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the usual way in which adults who are not Catholic can find out about and/or possibly enter the Catholic Church.
The RCIA is not just a “convert class” with a new name. It looks different too. Special rites are celebrated during the Sunday liturgies at various times throughout the year. Adults involved in the RCIA may be dismissed each week after the homily to go and reflect on the scriptures they have heard. The RCIA involves the whole parish - in prayer as the rites are celebrated, in hospitality as new members are welcomed, and in specific ministries like being a sponsor.
The most important thing to keep in mind about the RCIA is this: it is not merely a new way to prepare adults for baptism; these are only the first steps. The goal of the process is full communion which means “full, conscious, and active participation" in the Eucharist and in the whole life of the Catholic Faith Community. The RCIA helps adults to grow in their relationship with God, become more 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.
Many persons who want to join the Catholic Church have already been baptized in another Christian Church. They will not be rebaptized but will make profession of faith to the Catholic Church. They along with the unbaptized will follow four steps set up by the Catholic Church.
Period of Inquiry
How someone comes to consider joining the Catholic Church is unique to each individual. Years of marriage to a Catholic spouse, conversations with a Catholic friend or coworker, or even something written or viewed in the media can move an adult toward membership in the Catholic Church.
The inquiry period is a time to seek, to ask questions, to begin to learn about the Catholic Church. There are no commitments made or asked of during this time. Inquirers are encouraged to attend Mass and to begin to feel comfortable with the Catholic community.
Rite of Acceptance & Period of The Catechumenate
This part of the journey begins with a liturgical rite called the Rite of Acceptance, where the candidates (already baptized) and the catechumens (unbaptized) are introduced to, welcomed and blessed by the faith community. This is period of learning, a study of the Church’s doctrine and practices. This is also the period in which the candidates and catechumens are ask to attend the same Mass each Sunday. After the homily, they are dismissed to further pray and share that Sunday’s scripture readings. The Catechumenate process usually goes on up until the beginning of Lent.
Rite of Election & Period of Enlightenment
The period of the catechumenate ends when the catechumen or candidate discern, with the help of their sponsor and the parish RCIA team, that God is calling them to receive the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. The Rite of Election marks the end of the formal study of the Church’s teachings. The catechumens and candidates are now called the elect. The weeks of Lent are a time of intense prayer as the elect prepare themselves to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord at Easter and to receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and first Eucharist).
On the Sundays of Lent, the elect are prayed for in a special way to help them prepare more fully for the sacraments. The sponsors continue to accompany the elect in Church and support them in their Lenten preparation.
Initiation & Mystagogia
On Holy Saturday, the parish assembles for the Easter Vigil. The Easter Vigil is the primary celebration of the Lord’s resurrection and is, therefore, the most appropriate occasion for the elect to celebrate their Baptism or Profession of Faith, Confirmation and first Eucharist.
For the newly initiated, now called neophytes, the time immediately following Easter is a special opportunity to reflect on the commitment which they have made to the Lord, to the Church, and to the local parish community. This time of unfolding the meaning of the initiation sacraments is called Mystagogia. The Sunday scripture readings, which explain the meaning of the resurrection and of baptism, have special meaning for these new Catholics.
The weeks after Easter are a time for a new Catholic to seek out their place in the parish community. One’s journey of faith lasts a lifetime.
This process is not just for those learning about the Catholic faith. It is a “total parish commitment” through prayer, welcoming and an offer of friendship. Sponsors are needed for each catechumen and candidate, to walk with them on this journey through the RCIA process. Sponsors are a vital part of this process. As companions, guides, and models of faith, they offer personal support for newcomers and help them to feel at home. But sponsors receive so many gifts in return - refresher course in their faith, spiritual uplifting of this faith and of their prayer life, and the making of many new friends.
Sponsors may be a member of the parish who, having volunteered or been invited, is matched with a particular inquirer. Or a sponsor may be a person who first invited the inquirer to consider joining the Church. Either way, the sponsor represents the Church community in their welcoming of the inquirers and helping them to learn and experience our Catholic Faith.
When do we Start?
Sessions begin in late August or early September each year. The classes meet on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00pm. Baby-sitting is provided.
For more information, please contact Christine Myers at 918-299-9406, ext. 241 or via e-mail at email@example.com.