The letter “RCIA” stand for the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”. The RCIA describes a process in which men and women are guided and cared for as they awaken in faith and are gradually introduced to the Catholic way of life.
RCIA is for:
- Unbaptized adults who wish to learn about the Catholic Church and her teachings with an openness to becoming Catholic; They are considered catechumens.
- Baptized Christians from other Christian communities who are seeking full communion with the Roman Catholic Church (Eucharist and Confirmation). They are considered candidates.
- Baptized but uncatechized Catholic Adults who were baptized as infants in the Catholic Church yet not given any religious upbringing within the Catholic Tradition. These adults will be prepared to celebrate the sacraments of Penance, Confirmation and Eucharist. They are also considered candidates.
The RCIA process is a series of carefully planned stages, marked by liturgical rites in the presence of the whole community, in which new Catholics embark on and join us in a continuing and deepening conversion into faith and discipleship.
The Church helps prepare through different stages and rites an unbaptized adult for Baptism, Confirmation and receiving Eucharist. The stages are as follows:-
Period of Inquiry (Precatechumenate)
This is a time when an inquirer (like you) can find out more about the church and the faith and at the same time reflect on their own lives in its light. Even those who already believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ can find this a time to hear the message afresh and move to a deeper conversion of mind and heart.
You might think of this stage as a type of “courtship,” as you will get to know Jesus Christ and His Church. This is a time for listening, learning, asking questions, and discerning if God is calling you continue in the RCIA Process. Like courtship, there is no commitment at this time; you are just getting to know more about the Catholic Church and her teachings.
After this period if the inquirers choose to pursue initiation and profess their faith in Jesus Christ, they will then go through the first major rite of the RCIA process, the Rite of Acceptance. They are then called Catechumen. However if they choose otherwise the church respects their decision.
Period of the Catechumenate
This period is like “going steady” with someone that you’re serious about.
The word catechumenate means “time of serious study”. During this time the Catechumen will go through a series of catechesis (teaching). With the help of a sponsor and members of the parish, the Catechumens experience the church as a community of the faithful: their spirit, their work, their prayer, their creed and their mission.
During this time the conversion is further deepened as Catechumens discover the tremendous love and convincing power of God in their lives and in the life of community. Our catechumens do not journey alone during this period. Sponsors are chosen from the parish community to act as spiritual companions, providing personal support, sharing experience of Christian life and helping make the catechumens feel “at home” with Catholic religious practice.
A person may remain Catechumen from a few months to a number of years.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment
This is a time of more intense prayer and conversion as a follower of Jesus Christ. This period can be likened to the time of engagement, Catechumens who are ready for baptism (sacraments of initiation) will be given a formal invitation during the Rite of Election presided by our Archbishop.
During this Rite, the names of the Catechumens will be called and they will sign in the Book of Elect. They are now known as Elect. This is usually during the first week of Lent. Season of Lent is a time of final preparation.
This final preparation is also known as Scrutiny; a period of Purification and Enlightenment. During this period, the whole community assists the Catechumens to strengthen all that is good and remove all that is harmful or sinful in their lives by reflecting together on the Lenten scriptures and journeying together towards Easter.
Sacraments of Initiation or Baptism
Celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism will usually be at the Easter Vigil. During this celebration, the Elect will be receiving for the first time the Eucharist. Together, the full assembly solemnly renews baptismal vows.
Period of Mystagogy
The Neophytes as they are now known will complete a 50 days Period of Mystagogy from Easter Sunday to Pentecost. It is a special time for Neophytes to find their home in the community and consider now they will share in the mission of the church through Christian service. It helps them to penetrate the deeper meaning of the Easter Sacraments.
Interested in becoming a Catholic?
Children who have reached the age of reason, the Parish Priest should be consulted for information about Baptism and the other Sacraments of Initiation.
Adult Catholics who were baptized and received their First Eucharist in the Catholic Church and are interested in the Sacrament of Confirmation should contact the Parish Office.
Want to be a Sponsor?
A sponsor is an active Catholic that is willing to be a companion to someone going through the RCIA process. As they get acquainted they listen, answer questions, pray together, and connect them with the parish. Sponsors find their role to be one that enriches and deepens their own faith as well. It is a very rewarding experience.
As one sponsor said, “I am learning and growing at a better pace than if I had not sponsored someone. It is very exciting to hear the questions they ask and to see them evolve through the process.”