The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is an ongoing four-step process within parish life designed to welcome new members in the church. In 1966, a decree from the Second Vatican Council called for the adult rites of initiation (baptism, Eucharist, confirmation) to be revised and restored to the catechumenate, and in 1988, the American bishops mandated the implementation of RCIA in all parishes in the United States. This process recognizes our responsibility to demonstrate Christ's presence by our words and actions. The majority of those who express interest in becoming Catholic have been encouraged to do so by the actions of our parish community.
The first stage of the RCIA process, evangelization, begins when an adult comes to the church to inquire about Catholic beliefs and practices. This first stage is a period of reflection and discovery where the "inquirers" meet weekly, and through discussion, examine the Catholic beliefs.
In the second stage, the "catechumenate" officially begins with the Rite of Acceptance. This occurs on the first Sunday of Advent, which is the beginning of the liturgical year. The catechumens are introduced to the parish, receive the blessing of the priest and receive a copy of the Bible. Throughout the catechumenate period, the catechumens join the celebration of the Liturgy of the Word at the Sunday Mass and are formally dismissed after the homily to discuss the Sunday readings. Since they are not yet fully initiated, they are not yet invited to celebrate the Eucharist.
Their public presence at Mass and their dismissal from it are powerful reminders to all of us that our faith is a precious gift which should not be taken for granted. During this period, the catechumens continue their weekly meetings, in addition to attendance at Sunday Mass.
The third stage is a time of spiritual purification and enlightenment and begins with the Rite of Election celebrated by the diocesan bishop at the cathedral on the First Sunday of Lent. The catechumens, called by name and accompanied by their godparents, come forward as the bishop signs the Book of the Elect.
They are then invited to proceed to the sacraments of initiation. They will share with Catholics around the world the season of repentance, renewal and recommitment. During this period they will receive copies of the Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer on separate Sundays in their parish. These will be recited at every Sunday liturgy proclaiming the core beliefs of our Christian faith.
During the Easter Vigil, the catechumens are fully initiated into the church. We congratulate them, welcome them to our community, and promise them our prayers on their journey of faith.
The final stage of the RCIA process is called post-baptismal catechesis of Mystagogy. The newly initiated are invited to fully participate with the faithful in the Sunday liturgy. They are also encouraged to continue to study Scripture and to participate in the service mission of the parish. Although this concludes the RCIA process, the faith journey of the newly initiated, like our own, is a life-long process.
For more information, please contact Kathi Probo in the parish office.