What is the RCIA?
The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), also called the Catechumenate, is a process of initiation into the Catholic Community of Faith for persons who are experiencing a conversion in their lives and seeking either Christian baptism in the Catholic Church or full Communion with the Catholic tradition of Eucharist and Confirmation. It is a process that enables the study of the Gospels, Catholic Christian teaching, the acceptance of Christian values and morality, the development and deepening of a life of prayer and action with the support and involvement of the local Christian community. The RCIA is more than a course of instruction. It is a process of conversion, designed to meet the unique and individual needs of the participants.
Why an RCIA Process?
Christians are made, not born. There is nothing automatic or instant in the Rite of Christian Initiation. The development of faith takes time; it cannot be rushed. The candidates must be allowed sufficient time for their faith to ripen. Ordinarily, this means anywhere from one to two years of formation depending, of course, on the background and spiritual maturity of the candidates. In the past (in fact, hundreds of years ago), a person desiring reception into the Christian Community studied, prayed, fasted, and did good works for three years. Initiation takes time. Initiation is more than doctrinal instruction. It is a way of coming to know the traditions, the people, the prayer, and the actions of the community. Today, there are five stages of the RCIA Process:
Inquiry or Pre-CatechumenateAt this time participants are encouraged to ask questions and explore the basic tenets of the Catholic faith and to reflect upon these in light of their own life experiences.
The CatechumenateIt is during this time that most of study of Scripture, doctrine, traditions, and meeting with the community takes place.
Purification & EnlightenmentFor those preparing for baptism, this stage takes place during the Lenten season where they reflect upon their own faith experiences in a more intense, prayerful way. Other times during the year, baptized candidates reflect more deeply upon the meaning of their baptism and celebrate the Sacrament of Penance.
Sacraments of InitiationCandidates for baptism celebrate their initiation into the Church on the holiest of nights-the Easter Vigil - where they are baptized, confirmed, and receive Eucharist. Candidates for full communion celebrate their Rite of Reception several other times throughout the year.
MystagogiaThis is a time for candidates to reflect upon their experiences of being new Catholic Christians and find their place in the ordinary life of the Church.
Some Common Questions
No! We realize that many people are searching and need to know more about the Church before they make such a commitment. We also realize that Catholicism is not for everyone. We ask for no firm commitment until the beginning of Lent.
No! There is only one Baptism. Candidates seeking full Communion within the Catholic Church will not be baptized again. They will simply make a Profession of Faith and receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. Click here to read more about the Rites of Initiation for baptized and unbaptized persons. (go to About the Rites)
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the RCIA Cohort – or call your local parish and ask to speak to the person in charge of welcoming new folks to the parish.