The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) is a multistage process that helps prepare unbaptized individuals to receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist).
Outline of the RCIA process for the Unbaptized
This part of the process consists of informal meetings where inquirers begin to explore what it means to be a Christian, and what the initiation process is about. During this time you meet with the RCIA director and or the parish priest to discuss any questions and address any concerns you have about the process.
The pre-catechumenate can begin at anytime and is usually geared towards more intentional formation for the unbaptized leading up to the catechumate.
The catechumenate begins with the Rite of Acceptance. This period of formation is for the unbaptized and often coincides with the formation of candidates for full communion. The Catechumenate typically consists of weekly meetings where you gather with other catechumens and learn about Church teaching and what it means to live as a Christian.
This part of the process begins with the Rite of Election (usually in February), a liturgical rite where the catechumens begin the final period of their formation before their initiation. The “elect” formerly designated “catechumens” prepare for the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil.
This is where it all begins. At the Easter Vigil, on the holiest day of the year, the Church gathers to welcome you as one of her own. At the Vigil you will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. This is when you become a Christian and join the Church. This day is what the whole process is geared towards.
Mystagogy is the period of instruction that begins at Easter and concludes at Pentecost. This period of instruction aimed at helping the neophytes (new members) come to a deeper understanding of the Easter mysteries.
This is an unspecified period of formation where new members are invited to participate in regular formation opportunities as a group, or as provided by the parish.