RCIA is the joyous process by which the Catholic Church welcomes new members. Faith sharing, prayer, study, and discussion combine to support each person as he/she answers questions and discerns a call to conversion.
What is the RCIA process?
- Inquiry (Phase 1) An individual just starting the process is called an Inquirer. Through the exploration of initial questions and the sharing of faith during this stage, a person is better able to make a call to conversion and to make a decision whether to continue the process.
- Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate At this rite, the Inquirer states his/her intention to be a baptized member of the Catholic Church in front of the parish community at Mass. If the Inquirer has not been baptized, he/she is called a Catechumen. If the Inquirer has been baptized, he/she is called a Candidate. The first rite begins in October.
- Catechumenate (Phase 2) The teaching of the Catechism, which contains the basic points of the Catholic Faith and life, now begins. During this period the catechumen learns the meaning of the sacraments, the writings of the early church Fathers, Catholic dogmas, the infallibility of the Pope, the Virgin Mary, Purgatory, etc. Each candidate/catechumen will need a parish sponsor who supports and is involved in the faith learning journey.
- Rite of Election On the first Sunday of Lent, the forty-day period of preparation for Easter, the pastor/bishop will call the name of the catechumen at Mass. The catechumen who accepts this invitation into the Catholic Faith is now called “The Elect,” and the individual’s name is added in a book of those who will receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation). Preparation for full initiation into the Catholic Church begins now.
- Purification and Enlightenment (Phase 3) During the Lenten season, the focus of the RCIA process changes. Instruction about the Catholic Faith is replaced with an emphasis on conversion. Anyone who has already been baptized takes this opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Each “Elect” now expresses sincere repentance in the forms of fasting, prayer, sacrifices, charity towards others, etc. This extended time of education, faith sharing, and prayer culminates with the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.
- Initiation You will be received into the church during the Easter Vigil Mass, where you will receive the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation. If you have already been baptized, you will not be baptized again. The ears and the mouth of The Elect are blessed, so they may hear the Word of God and profess it. This is the moment when the Catechumen declares his/her Baptismal name.
- Mystagogy (Phase 4) In Greek, Mystagogy means entering more deeply into the mysteries. After Easter Vigil Mass, you reflect and learn more about the mysteries of the Mass and the sacraments in which you now fully participate. Once initiated into the Catholic Church, you are called neophytes. Neophyte means newly planted. It tells us that you are now in full communion with the church. During this phase, new members will also learn ways to become actively involved in parish life.
How long is the process?
At Holy Redeemer, our initiation program begins in September/October and concludes on Easter Vigil, the evening before Easter Day in March/April. You and your sponsor meet directly with the Pastor/Deacon and the RCIA team weekly or every-other week.
Who is welcome to begin the RCIA journey?
Each person who starts out on this journey does so for personal reasons and will have unique needs and expectations, but generally, the RCIA process can be applied to the following groups:
- Unbaptized persons are those who have never been baptized and will receive all three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation.
- Those baptized in another Christian church who will enter into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.
- Baptized Catholic adults who have not received the other Sacraments of Initiation will receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.
- The Christian Initiation of children is similar to that of adults. However, depending on the age, the language and process will be more appropriate for the child. An initial interview with the child and parents is the first step of the process. During this interview, the Priest/Deacon must discern with the family the kind of formation suitable for the child. This discernment will be based on several factors: age of the child, baptismal status, religious education, involvement in the life of the Church, and Mass attendance, etc.
Each person who embarks on the RCIA journey is unique and will have different qualities and different needs. Therefore, an initial conference is needed. Specific information based on individual needs will be discussed.
"There is so much to know about our faith, I had no idea... The RCIA process helped me learn how to practice our Catholic faith. It was very helpful to meet and discuss our faith so I could discover how and why we worship. By the time I joined the church at Easter, I was able to understand what happens at Mass, how to work on my relationship with Jesus on a daily basis, and how to be active part of our parish. I would've been lost without the RCIA process." -Scott Frey
Please call the parish office at 419-629-2543 for questions or to begin the inquiry.