Thinking about joining the Catholic church but not sure where to start? The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process through which interested adults and older children are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life.
RCIA is a period of reflection, prayer, instruction, discerment, and formation. There is no set timetable, and those who join are encouraged to go at their own pace and take as much time as they need. On average, the process takes between eight to twelve months, but it can take up to two years or more.
Period of Inquiry
How someone comes to consider joining the Catholic Church is unique to each individual. Once the initial contact is made, a person joins with others who are inquiring. They begin to meet with RCIA Team members to tell their stories, connect these stories with the faith stories found in the scriptures, and begin to ask some of those questions that have been mulling around in their thoughts. This first step can go on for months or years!
Rite of Acceptance and the Period of the Catechumenate
Some of the inquirers become firm in their desire for initiation and decide that they would like to begin more formal study of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. They are admitted into the next step through a special ceremony called the Rite of Acceptance.
This is the first time the inquirers publicly declare their faith before the parish community. Sponsors provide support and companionship for the rest of the RCIA process.
After the rite, the inquirers are called catechumens. This name indicates that they are learning the teachings of the Church and beginning to accept Catholic tradition and practices. At it’s core, the Catechumens are coming around to proclaim and live the faith that God has planted in them.
The time spent as a catechumen will vary from person to person. The bishops of the United States have suggested that this catechumenate period is to last for at least one year or longer.
Rite of Election and the Period of Purification and Enlightenment
The period of the catechumenate ends when the catechumens discern, with the help of their sponsors and the parish RCIA team, that God is calling them to receive the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and the first Eucharist) at the next Easter Vigil. Before they can be initiated they must be officially called to the sacraments by the bishop or someone designated by him.
The Rite of Election marks the end of formal study of the teaching and practices of the Church. The catechumens are now called the elect. The weeks of Lent are a time of intense prayer and preparation for the Easter Vigil.
Initiation and Mystagogia
On Holy Saturday the Church celebrates the Easter Vigil and the elect celebrate their baptism, confirmation and first Eucharist.
For the newly initiated, now called neophytes, the time between Easter and Pentecost is a special opportunity to reflect on the commitment which they have made to the Lord, the Church, and to the local parish community. This time of unfolding the meaning of the initiation sacraments is called mystagogia.
This is not an end to the journey, but a beginning. The journey of faith lasts a lifetime. The weeks after Easter are a time for new Catholics to seek out their place in the parish community.
Who is this for:
1) This program is for any person who wants to know more about the Catholic Faith and/or is thinking of possibly becoming a Catholic. We will have a flexible year round program that incorporates both a reflection on the Catechism and Scripture. There is no cost and you can join or leave the program at any time.
2) All participants will be required to have a 1-on-1 meeting with the pastor.
3) Those participants who miss a meeting will be required to write or email the team an impression of that day’s readings with any personal questions.
Lecture: Summary and key-points will use outside sources, when applicable. (about 15-30 minutes)
Sharing and questions: We can use the discussion questions at the end of the chapter to spark conversation. (45 minutes-1 hour)
Prayer: This will be a time for us to introduce a new Catholic prayer, and to open it up to reflective and quiet prayer. (15-30 minutes).
Janey West, Fr. Gary Simpson, and Dcn. John Roche
For more information please contact the St. Clare office at (859) 986-4633 or use the email contact form in the sidebar.