RCIA

 

 

RCIA

Michele Hunter

410-833-1696

mhunter@shgparish.org

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

"I have called you by your name, you are mine."  Isaiah 43:1

 

Open the door to faith through RCIA

 

RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Through this process, the adult is formed in the Christian faith, with the local parish community serving as both catechists (teachers) and models (sponsors). It is a sacramental process of preparation and formation for adults, a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful. RCIA is a spiritual journey for those responding to the many forms of God's grace. Conversion is the central and underlying principle of an individual's journey in the RCIA Program. The Rite emphasizes Scripture, Church, Doctrine, Christian Living, Liturgy and Apostolic Service. Participation in the RCIA process can lead the inquirer to the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.


A personal invitation coming from you (a friend or family member) may be just the welcoming words they need to begin an amazing new faith journey. Give us the name and number of someone you feel may want to learn more about our faith. Help us to spread God's word!

 

 


The RCIA program is intented to serve:

  • Those who just want to know more about our Catholic faith
  • The un-baptized who would like to learn more about the Catholic religion
  • Those baptized in another religion who may wish to become Catholic
  • Those baptized Catholic who have not completed the Initiation Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation) or who have not been raised in the faith
  • Adult Catholics who wish to return to their faith

RCIA is the process for interested persons to gradually become a part of the Catholic Church. Whatever the reason, now may be the time to answer the invitation of Jesus to a deeper faith life. Perhaps those from other faith backgrounds have found that the example of family members or the influence of friends have awakened a desire to examine the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church.

 

The RCIA provides an opportunity to grow in faith, and knowledge of the Catholic tradition. Weekly meetings provide an opportunity for prayer, study, and discussion. These meetings, combined with the experience of Mass, Parish life, learning about Church tradition, and, especially, the Sacraments, all work together to bring each of us to a deeper understanding of our faith, leading us to the Sacraments of Initiation. The RCIA is a year-round program, with weekly meetings beginning in September on Monday evenings. Please, contact us at any point in the year to begin your journey of faith. The Sacraments of Initiation are celebrated each year at the Easter Vigil.

 

The process is flexible! If you are intimidated by being part of a large group, or are unavailable on Monday evenings when we meet as a group, we will work with you. We are here to make this as comfortable as possible for you. Please contact us! We can help meet any and all needs and concerns.


A History of RCIA

RCIA has been around since the early Church — and was the method in which the Church prepared un-baptized adults to be received into the Christian Church (which later became known as the Catholic Church). The RCIA process was an intense period of study, prayer, and conversion that (in the Church's early days) often lasted up to three years. During the process, a sponsor would testify to the entire assembly of the conversion, authenticity, and genuine readiness of the individual. After some time, the process was put aside and in its place private preparation was used.

 

RCIA Today

The Second Vatican Council brought back the RCIA process. In keeping with the spirit of communal participation of the whole Church, inquirers enter into a public process, are formed in community, and integrated into the life of the Church through that community.

 

Keeping in the spirit of the original preparation, the base elements of study, prayer, community, and discernment remain and are integral, though persons may now possibly enter the Church in a shorter time-frame, based on his/her needs. The process at Sacred Heart generally takes one year. The decision to accept baptism, or to become a Catholic, or to complete one's Catholic initiation must be the free will of each person. The Catholic Church does not coerce, guilt, nor do we manipulate this decision. Nor does the Church decide how long the individual can take to complete their conversion.

 

Regardless of a person's age or circumstances, the Church is tasked with the duties, rights, and responsibilities to ensure that each individual meets the requirements set out by the Code of Canon Law, as well as publicly demonstrates the desire, readiness, and lifestyle that reflect acceptance and understanding of the Gospel and becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

 

RCIA Phases

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is comprised of four phases. These phases follow the experience of conversion to and initiation in the Christian faith.

 

Inquiry (Evangelization): This phase mimics the first experience of hearing the Word of God, of becoming aware of God's presence, love, and work in our lives. In this first awareness, one is getting to know who God is through story-telling of their own life and the stories of the Bible. It is the phase in which the first stirrings of faith in Jesus Christ begin. For one that is already baptized, it is a re-awakening of that awareness and beginning of renewal, as well as first intentional integration into the community of believers. We will begin this phase with you at any point in the year, and integrate you into the current session of RCIA, but depending on how close we are to Easter, may mean integration into the next round beginning in September.

 

Ritual: Rite of Acceptance (un-baptized) and Rite of Welcome (baptized) for those that have indicated, and given evidence of conversion, and desire to follow the way of Christ through the Catholic Church.

 

Catechumenate: This phase is the apprenticeship towards Christian discipleship. It is accomplished through formal instruction in the core teachings and beliefs (doctrine) of the faith and experienced through liturgy, service, and parish community life. This comprehensive approach aims for a thorough integration of the faith. The Catechumenate follows the liturgical cycle of the Church since that is how the faith is experienced in daily life. For the un-baptized, and the un-catechized, at least one full liturgical year is required, but this may last possibly longer, depending on when a person begins and how they progress. For one who is baptized and well-catechized, this period is fit to one's individual needs, but still retains the necessary formation from both formal instruction and integration with the parish.

 

Ritual: Rite of Election for the un-baptized who have given clear evidence of acquaintance and integration of the core teachings and beliefs and desire to accept baptism. Call to Continuing Conversion for the baptized who also demonstrate acquaintance and integration of the core teachings and beliefs and desire to complete their initiation, or come into full communion with the Catholic Church. This is celebrated with the rest of the Diocese at a beautiful service at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen on the first Sunday in Lent. The Rite of Election closes the Period of the Catechumenate. At this rite, upon the testimony of sponsors and catechists and the catechumens' affirmation of their intention to join the Church, the Church makes its "election" of these catechumens to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. In the presence of the Archbishop, they inscribe their names in the Book of the Elect at the Cathedral as a pledge of fidelity. Now the catechumens are called "the elect" or "the illuminandi" ("those who will be enlightened"). They now begin a Period of Purification and Enlightenment, the final, intense preparation for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. On the next five Sundays of Lent, three scrutinies (rites for self-searching and repentance) and the presentations of the Creed and Lord's Prayer take place. This period concludes with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.

 

Purification and Enlightenment: This phase, indicated by its name points to an intense, inward reflection and discernment. In this phase, the candidate seeks to be purified in their intentions to follow Christ more fully, to recognize any sinful attachments or attitudes that still separate or diminish their relationship with Christ, and to receive the light they need to follow him more authentically. It is no longer a time to "learn teachings that were not picked up" — those must be completed fully prior to beginning this phase. Included in this phase are spiritual retreats, and smaller rituals (scrutinies) intended to support and assist each person. This phase occurs for the un-baptized and un-catechized (baptized) during Lent, following a minimum one year preparation in the Catechumenate. For the baptized that are well catechized, this phase is adapted to fit their needs, whenever that may be.

 

Ritual: Sacraments of Initiation — Baptism, Confirmation, First Holy Communion for the un-baptized. For the baptized, Profession of Faith for non-Catholics, plus Confirmation and First Holy Communion. For the baptized only Catholic, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. These Sacraments of Initiation occur at the Easter Vigil.

 

Mystagogia: It is said that all of the baptized faithful are continuing this phase because we are still reflecting on the story of Christ, and still experiencing the conversion from our Christian initiation, regardless of when that occurred. The Mystagogia, strictly speaking, occurs for the neophytes (newly baptized) and newly professed members for the period between Easter and Pentecost. The mystagogia period is similar to the story of walk along the road Emmaus. The disciples were so excited and filled with wonder telling the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection that they did not recognize it was Christ to whom they were speaking, until the breaking of the bread. He helped them understand his story in relation to the Scriptures, and all they had experienced. It is a time of reflection, celebration, and active participation in the life and mission of the Church. For the newly-baptized, this may be a longer period than the six weeks after Easter. For the baptized, newly professed, this period is adapted to individual needs.