What is RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process that the Catholic Church uses to foster the spiritual journey of adults wishing to become Catholic. Upon completion adults who have not yet been baptized become full, active, participating members of the Catholic Church. The process is also for those who are baptized in another Christian church, who would like the opportunity to learn more about the Catholic faith and is open for Catholics who simply want to continue and deepen their faith journey. Through this process, one is given the opportunity to develop a fuller understanding of the Catholic Faith, fellowship with other Catholics, and education in Scripture and prayer.
" You are no longer strangers and foreigners,
but fellow citizens with the household
of God." Ephesians 2:19
PERIODS and RITES OF THE RCIA PROCESS
Pre-Catechumenate – A time for you to ask questions about the Catholic Faith. This is also a time of discernment to determine if becoming Catholic is right for you. During this time people in the pre-catechumenate are called inquirers. We ask that those going through this period as inquirers attend mass at least weekly.
Rite of Acceptance/Welcoming – This is the first step in the process of becoming Catholic. This ceremony takes place at one of the masses. The inquirers publicly declare their intention to continue their journey of faith toward full initiation in the Catholic Church. The entire community, represented by the sponsors and the assembly, offers its support and witness to you. At this rite individuals go from being inquirers to becoming candidates (baptized) and catechumens (unbaptized.)
Period of the Catechumenate – An extended period of catechesis (learning) and formation. There is no definite time line. Candidates and Catechumens attend mass, dismissals, and class weekly. Subjects in class cover the weekly liturgical theme and generally the material are subjects from the Catholic Catechism.
Dismissals – Candidates and Catechumens celebrate the first part of the Sunday mass with the community in what is called the liturgy of the Word. After the homily (preaching), they are dismissed to further discuss the bible readings presented in the mass. During dismissal you will learn about the historical and cultural context as well as the spiritual meaning of the readings from a Catholic perspective. You will also see how the readings apply to our everyday lives.
Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion – After extended discernment, the community can give witness to God’s election and call of the catechumens and candidates. This election/call is not about your choosing to be Catholic and experiencing the sacraments of initiation but about God choosing you.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment - This period begins after the Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion. The tone of the period of preparation shifts to one similar to a retreat. It is a period of prayerful and spiritual reflection in preparation for recieving the sacraments of initiation.
Celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation – The sacrament of baptism is celebrated only at the Easter Vigil. Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated two times in addition to Easter Vigil. These sacraments are what bring you fully into the Catholic community.
Mystagogy – This is a reflection on the mysteries of the sacraments. This formal period of reflection and prayer continues for several weeks during the Easter season. A time of transition and assistance in answering the question, "What Now?" Primarily focused on the effects of the most blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, on your life.
Inquirer – a person who expresses an interest in learning more about the Catholic faith.
Catechumen – a person who has not been baptized
Candidate – a person who has been baptized into the Christian tradition.