Coordinators: Mark and Mary DeFrancisco, email@example.com, 978 475-4907
RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is a program that assists adults into full acceptance into the Catholic Church. A team of experienced lay catechists facilitates this process of growth in the individual. People who might be interested in this program are those who have recognized a call from God for greater union with Him and desire to fulfill this call. The program is structured to provide for a variety of individual backgrounds:
- unbaptized with no experience in any church
- unbaptized with some familiarity with a church or worship community
- baptized in the Catholic or other recognized Christian church who have no church experience
- baptized Catholics who have received First Holy Communion but have never been Confirmed
- baptized in other churches who are very familiar with the life of Christ
- those who are married to Catholics and now desire to profess the Catholic faith
The program is adapted to the particular needs of each person. Most participants begin in the fall and are baptized at the Easter Vigil the following spring. Special considerations sometimes affect this time frame. Inquiry sessions are ongoing for people who are curious about the Catholic faith and want to discover more about their life’s journey, the call to God, and the coming to faith. The RCIA is a continuing program and people may enter at any time during the year. Anyone interested in RCIA should please contact the coordinators listed above.
Each year during the Easter Vigil, held on Holy Saturday, thousands of adults throughout the US enter into the Catholic Church through reception of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. They prepare for this moment through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Adults who enter into this program are responding to a call from God to grow in relationship and understanding of Jesus Christ. Led by a team of lay catechists they spend time together each week learning about the Catholic faith. There are several steps/periods in the process:
First Step: Pre-Catechumenate
The period of Evangelisation and Pre-catechumenate is a time of exploration and discernment, allowing an opportunity to question and begin to explore many different aspects of the Catholic faith while being introduced to the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ. The length of time for each person varies and can be as short as one year or take several years. The individual is referred to as an inquirer and is guided by a sponsor, (member of the faith community) and members of the RCIA team. This period of early formation leads to the Rite of Acceptance.
Rite of Acceptance
At a suitable time, enquirers who are interested in making a more formal commitment to growing in faith participate in the Rite of Acceptance. This Rite is the gateway to the second period of the RCIA, the Catechumenate. From this moment, the inquirer is accepted into the Church as a catechumen, one preparing for Baptism.
Second Step: Period of the Catechumenate
During the period of the Catechumenate, catechumens begin to participate with the whole Catholic parish community in their Sunday liturgical celebrations by sharing in the Liturgy of the Word. Through the study of Sacred Scripture, prayer, catechesis and coming to know other Catholic Christians, catechumens discover the love and power of God in their lives and in the Church. During this period, catechumens receive anointings, participate in prayers of exorcism and blessings to assist their conversion of heart and mind to God.
Rite of Election
When the pastor, the RCIA team and the sponsor believe the catechumen is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the celebration of the Rite of Election. During the Rite, which typically takes place on the First Sunday of Lent, the catechumen formally requests entry into the Catholic Church through reception of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist) which will take place during the Easter Vigil. A catechumen publicly declares their desire for baptism by signing their name in the Book of Elect. The catechumen is now referred to as the elect.
Third Step: Period of Purification and Enlightenment
This period takes place during the liturgical season of Lent and is marked by three parish celebrations known as Scrutinies. The elect are presented with the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer and together with their parish community focus on an ever deeper conversion and examination of their lives in light of the Gospel. They are present at the Mass for the Liturgy of the Word and dismissed just prior to the Liturgy of the Eucharist along with the RCIA team and their sponsors to meet for further catechesis.
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
At the Easter Vigil and with the community of the faithful present, the elect are Baptised, Confirmed and make their First Holy Communion, thus becoming full members of the Body of Christ, the Church. From this time, they are known as neophytes for the first year of their new life in Christ.
Mystagogy and Neophyte Year
This is an important period of reflection for the newly initiated with their parish community, particularly at the Masses for Neophytes during the Easter season. During their neophyte year the new Catholics are especially supported in their participation in the mission of the Church as disciples of Christ. While the fourth stage marks the closing of the RCIA chapter, it is the very beginning of living a new life as a fully initiated and participating member of the Catholic Church! A life called to an ongoing mystagogy, an ever deepening conversion to God.