What Is The RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which people become members of the Roman Catholic Church. The process is concerned with the total formation of the person into believing with the Church community (doctrinal formation), living with the Church community (practical formation), praying with the Church community (liturgical formation), and serving with the Church community (apostolic formation). This gradual development culminates in the celebration of the initiation sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist at Easter time.
The central and unifying principle of the Rite is conversion. By entering into the conversion journey through RCIA, people join the paschal journey of Jesus Christ and are introduced to Church doctrine, life, liturgy, and apostolic work. The Rite thus broadens the practice of “convert instruction” to allow for an all-inclusive and ongoing formation in the faith. The gospel message of conversion is the reason for becoming a Catholic Christian and the reason for remaining one.
The Rite is designed primarily for those seeking Baptism; that is, those not baptized previously. However, because of the nature of conversion as an ongoing reality, the RCIA can be adapted for those baptized in other Christian denominations, now seeking membership in the Roman Catholic Church. As such, the RCIA is a flexible process which respects the faith development of each individual while maintaining the ideals and vision of the Catholic community.
There are four stages of the RCIA: the Precatechumenate, or period of inquiry and evangelization; the Catechumenate, which is a time of serious and dedicated formation; the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, which coincides with Lent; and Mystagogy, which lasts from Easter to Pentacost. All of these stages are marked by distinct liturgical rites.
This is a time of no fixed duration for inquiry and introduction to gospel values, an opportunity for the beginnings of faith. You’re basically here checking us out to see if this is really what you want or if this is right for you.
This is the time, in duration corresponding to the progress of the individual, for the nurturing and growth of the individual’s faith and conversion to God.
This is the time immediately preceding the elect’s initiation, usually the Lenten season. It’s a time of reflection and conversion in preparation for the rites of initiation.
This time continues through Easter season, up until Pentecost. During this period, the new Catholics, or “neophytes”, are “deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and making it a part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and doing the works of charity.”
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?
There is no set time period for the process of becoming a Catholic. However, the Church makes it clear that what is most important is ensuring adequate preparation takes place, and not meeting a schedule. Some may require more time, some maybe less, depending on their spiritual readiness. Whatever precedes it, though, the Sacraments of Initiation should normally be celebrated during the Easter Vigil Celebration.
WHO ARE THEY?
People involved in the RCIA process are either catechumans or candidates. Catechumans are those who have never been baptized. Candidates are those who have been baptized in other Christian denominations, whose baptism is recognized as valid. There are special rites for unbaptized children who have reached the age of reason and are seeking to become Catholics. Also, the RCIA can be adapted for those who were baptized in the Catholic Church but have never learned or practiced their faith.
EXPECTATIONS OF THE RCIA PROCESS / JOURNEY
- We meet every Tuesday from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM – we do break during the Christmas and Easter seasons.
- Every Tuesday evening, prior to RCIA, there is Mass held here at St. Patrick’s Church, starting at 7:00 PM – all participants are encouraged to attend.
- As you are making a commitment to change your life, deepen your faith, and develop a closer relationship with God, it is expected that you will regularly attend weekend Mass. We have 3 Masses every weekend; you can choose to attend the Mass of your preference. Our Mass times are: Saturday at 5:00 PM, Sunday at 9:00 AM, and Sunday at 11:00 AM. If you are uncomfortable with attending Mass on your own, please attend with a family member or friend, or call one of our team members and you will be welcome to attend Mass with us.
- We strongly encourage that, if at all possible, if you have a spouse that your spouse attend RCIA with you. We believe that this is very beneficial for the couple as you journey through this process.
- Each RCIA session will begin with a prayer and a time for sharing of your faith journey, how your life is changing, and other events happening in your life.
- It is expected that you will do the required weekly assignment – mostly, it’s reading a handout that you will be given – which will be discussed the following week.
Click below to download the full RCIA meeting schedule.
For more information about St. Pat’s Church RCIA, please contact the parish office (403-526-2265).