The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA, is a communal process for formal initiation of new members into the Catholic Church. This process is a return to the formation of the earliest members of the Church in the first and second centuries.
Few things in parish life are more rewarding than helping someone learn about the Catholic faith. You don’t need to be a theologian or an experienced teacher. You doneed to be an adult Catholic who participates regularly in the sacramental life of the Church and who has a lively interest in the faith.
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Catechumens are unbaptized persons who desire to be fully incorporated into the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Candidates are those who have been baptized in the Christian faith and are seeking full communion in the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Proof of valid baptism in a recognized Christian denomination (by way of a certificate of baptism or letter of verification from one’s pastor or church of baptism) is required of all candidates.
Inquiry is the first step in RCIA. Typically, adults spend two months discussing their faith lives and learning basic information about the Catholic Church.
Catechumenate is the second step in the RCIA. It includes weekly meetings as well as regular attendance at Sunday Mass with the group. During Mass, Catechumens and Candidates are dismissed following the homily to spend a half-hour in Scripture reflection.
Sponsor is a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church who studies and prays with the Catechumen or Candidate and guides him or her on the journey of faith. The sponsors take an active role in the spiritual life of their catechumen or candidate and are vital to RCIA.
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults
Not too long ago, adults who wanted to become Roman Catholics attended a few weeks of "convert instruction" and were quietly baptized in a private ceremony by the parish priest. It was a totally private process that involved only a priest and the inquirer. One of the great gifts of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s was a renewed process of forming and initiating adults called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
The RCIA restores for the modern world the process the ancient Church used in initiating members. Early Christians realized that initiation is a process that proceeds through certain stages and that necessarily involves the entire faith community. At OLOR, the process typically takes a year and is designed to meet each individual’s needs. It begins with a series of Inquiry sessions and continues through weekly Catechumenate sessions until the individual is ready for Baptism or reception into the Church. It is a dynamic process that includes both instruction in the faith and formation for a life of Christian discipleship.
At OLOR, an adult can begin the RCIA English language process at any time. Typically the newcomer spends several weeks in the Inquiry group. During this time, basic questions are answered and the Inquirer begins to see how his or her faith journey has led to this moment. The group is designed for any non-Catholic who wants to learn more about the Church in a low-key, pressure-free setting.
After a time, the Inquirer moves on to the Catechumenate. Members of this group attend Mass together and are "dismissed" after the homily to reflect on the Scriptures for the day and their lessons for the Catholic Christian life.
The length of time spent in Inquiry and Catechumenate will vary depending on the individual. For those who are unbaptized, the time involved is at least a year. For baptized Christians from other churches, the preparation time usually is shorter.
Individuals seeking Baptism are baptized, confirmed, and receive Holy Eucharist. Those Christians seeking to join the Catholic Church by making a Profession of Faith do so at specified times during the year.
WHETHER YOU WANT TO BECOME CATHOLIC, OR YOU ARE A CATHOLIC WITH QUESTIONS ABOUT CATHOLICISM, PLEASE SUBSCIBE TO FORMED.ORG TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CATHOLIC FAITH.
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