Becoming A Catholic
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.) is a journey of faith which welcomes new adult members into the Catholic Christian Community. It is for those who have never been baptized, or those who were baptized in another faith, but are interested in becoming Catholic. The process moves through 4 stages, normally beginning in August and concluding at the end of the Easter season.
RCIA Adapted for Children- The process of Christian Initiation is also available to children who for some reason or circumstance have not yet been baptized or received the other sacraments of Eucharist, Reconciliation & Confirmation. The RCIA process adapted for children is being offered this coming year. It’s an opportunity for children beyond the second grade to prepare with their parents for reception of the sacraments and welcome into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil.
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 learn more 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.
Purification and Enlightenment
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.
In addition to providing formation for the unbaptized, the RCIA also makes provision for those that are already baptized and living as practicing Christians to come into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church recognizes that those individuals that are already baptized are one with us by virtue of baptism. In reality there is very little that keeps us apart. The RCIA is designed to provide formation for baptized Christians so that they can come into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church as soon as they have received appropriate instruction. The instruction that is given in preparation for full communion varies from individual to individual as we always take into consideration the background and various life circumstances of the individual candidate for full communion. For some individuals, preparing to come into full communion may closely resemble the formation that the unbaptized undergo.
Preparation for Reception into full communion with the Church begins with the Rite of Welcoming (Often in the fall, but this can take place at any time) This period of formation is an unspecified amount of time where those already baptized take time to explore what it means to be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This process can takes weeks or months and isn’t necessarily as long as the catechumenate, nor does it always coincide with the catechumenate.