R.C.I.A. THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS ... Becoming Catholic
† FAITH INQUIRY
If you find that you are interested in exploring the Catholic faith you are invited to participate in "Faith Inquiry". Faith Inquiry is where you can find the answers to your questions about what it means to be Catholic. You will learn more about the Catholic Church, what Catholics believe and what Catholics do. Members of the community share their stories and life experiences and what being Catholic means to them. Inquiry entails no commitment to becoming Catholic and there is no expectation that everyone will. It is the opportunity to explore the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church.
Persons who have never been baptized or those baptized previously in another Christian tradition may enter this process at any time. Catechumen is the name that the church gives to one who has never been baptized. Candidate is one who has been baptized in another Christian tradition and whose baptism is recognized as valid. R.C.I.C. the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children) is an adaptation of R.C.I.A. and is for children 7 years of age and older. St. Mary Magdalen also adapts some of the elements of the process for those who were baptized in the Catholic Church but have never learned or practiced their faith, or have never received the Sacraments of Eucharist and/or Confirmation.
† THE CATECHUMENATE
When a person is ready and decides to continue in the process, he or she begins the second stage of the process called the Catechumenate. It is a time of looking more closely at the Scriptures, a time of coming to know Christ and what it means to follow Him and to live as His disciples. It's a time to deepen our relationship with God and with one another. It's a time of sharing stories and life experiences, and to experience first hand what it means to be Catholic, leading to a deeper commitment to the Christian life, prayer, and community.
† THE PERIOD OF PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT
In the early Church, Baptism only occurred at Easter, so the weeks before Easter were focused on preparation for the catechumens. This period is what we know as Lent. This time of final preparation for initiation has been restored in the Church. This is the next stage of the process known as the period of purification and enlightenment, when together with the whole Church the catechumens and candidates are enlightened with a deeper knowledge of Christ. It is the responsibility of the entire Catholic Community to participate in the formation of the catechumens and candidates. We participate through witness, support, example and prayer.
At the Easter Vigil, catechumens are baptized and confirmed; candidates are confirmed. The new Catholics complete their initiation by coming to the Lord's Table for the first time to receive the Eucharist (the Body and Blood of Christ), as full members of His Church.
The next period of Christian initiation follows the reception of the Sacraments and is called "Mystagogy" (from Greek, meaning "revealing the mysteries"). It continues through the Easter season, until Pentecost (50 days). During this time period, the new Catholics who are now the "neophytes" meet once a week and deepen their grasp of all that they have received. Throughout the R.C.I.A. process, the support and witness of the entire Catholic community has been important. That role continues during Mystagogy, as the community continues to offer the neophytes encouragement and support. The focus of Mystagogy is the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy, where we are nourished and unified by the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ. Many neophytes gather once a month for the next year to share their faith journeys. "Mystagogia" is ongoing for all Catholics who wish to grow in their faith and deepen their relationship with God and His Church.
THE MINISTRY of R.C.I.A.
All in the Catholic Community are called through our liturgical prayer, our community and our Christian way of life to minister to those who are seeking the Catholic way of life and preparing to receive the Sacraments. The primary minister of R.C.I.A. is the Catholic community, the assembly of the faithful. Other ministers who are involved in facilitating the journeys of the catechumens and candidates are described below.
Sponsor (companion & leader): They help support and care for the catechumens and candidates by sharing their faith and the life of the community with them. They have an ability to listen compassionately and to share the experiences of their own faith life.
Catechist: Whether it is during the period of inquiry or the catechumenate, catechists echo the Gospel. They help guide these men, women and children to experience God's presence and love in their lives and through His Word.
Retreat Facilitator: Those who coordinate and plan the retreats during the process. Catechists and other members of the community participate in the retreats helping to guide the catechumens and candidates through the scripture readings, reflections, prayer, and sharing.
Hospitality: These ministers embrace the candidates and catechumens by welcoming them into the community, serving refreshments and helping them to feel at home.
If you are interested in becoming Catholic and would like to inquire about the process please contact:
(810) 229-8624 ext. 176