The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the rite provided by the Catholic Church for the faith formation and initiation of adult believers in to the church. Its intention is to engage the entire parish community in an ongoing process of conversion – in the formation of new members, and in the continuing formation and renewal of exiting members. Parishioners are encouraged to sponsor a candidate or catechumen, to serve as catechists, to “Break Open the Word” on Sundays, assist the Inquiry Team, or attend RCIA formation sessions and thus come to know the candidates and catechumens. Questions about the process of Adult Initiation may be addressed to the Adult Formation Office or may be made by e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.Formation and Initiation of Adults
Sessions are every Monday (academic year) from 7-9 P.M. in the Holy Family Room of St. Agnes Hall.
For more information, please contact the parish office.
How do I become Catholic?
The formation of adults for initiation into the Catholic Church is shaped to the individual. A person who desires to be received into the Catholic Church may begin the process at any time of the year. Those who have been baptized in most other Christian Churches may be received into full Communion at any time during the year, with the exception of Lent. Adults desiring baptism are baptized, confirmed and receive Eucharist for the first time at the Easter Vigil.
For those seeking baptism, the length of time in formation is a minimum of one liturgical year. The formation of baptized adults varies in duration. All adults considering reception into the Catholic Church begin the process by attending Inquiry. The Inquiry sessions are shaped by the questions and concerns of those who are in attendance at a given session. Those who have decided to become Catholic continue their formation in Catechetical sessions, most of which are based on the previous Sunday’s Scripture readings.
Several rites mark significant points in the process.
The Rite of Acceptance (for those to be baptized) or Rite of Welcome (for those already baptized) is a person’s first public statement of intent to be received into the church. Following the Rite of Acceptance, a person preparing for Baptism is known as a catechumen. He or she is a Catholic, but not fully initiated. The catechumen is dismissed from Sunday Liturgy following the homily to spend additional time with the catechist reflecting the Scriptures they have just heard. A person who has celebrated the Rite of Welcome is known as a candidate. Because they are already baptized, Candidates are not dismissed from Liturgy.
On the First Sunday in Lent, those catechumens who have completed the minimum year of preparation celebrate the Rite of Sending. During this Rite, the sponsors and parish attest to the catechumen’s readiness for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Later that same day, parish representatives and the sponsor present the catechumen to the Bishop for the Rite of Election. The Bishop then elects the catechumen to the Easter Sacraments and the catechumen is now one of the Elect. The Elect will be baptized at the Easter Vigil, be confirmed and receive Eucharist for the first time.
The First Weekend of Lent is also the time for the Rite of Sending of Candidates. This is an optional rite for the candidates, though most who are in the RCIA process during the Lenten season choose to participate. At this Rite, sponsors and the parish community attest to the candidate’s readiness to make a profession of faith. The candidates meet with the Bishop to celebrate the Rite of Recognition. It is during this rite that the Bishop formally recognizes the candidates’ baptisms and calls them and all present to continuing conversion. The candidates may make their profession of faith on almost any Sunday outside the Lenten season.
A sponsor must be a fully initiated Catholic (one who has been baptized, confirmed and has received Eucharist) in good standing who is at least 16 years of age. The role of the sponsor is to assist the candidate or catechumen in learning to live the Catholic Christian life and to introduce them to parish life and activities. The sponsor accompanies the candidate or catechumen to all formation sessions, is present for the celebration of all the rites and participates in the RCIA retreat with the candidate or catechumen. In addition to the parish sponsor, the candidate may have additional sponsors chosen from among their close friends and family.
RCIA Team Member:
The RCIA team members are responsible for the overall RCIA process. Unlike sponsors whose concern is with a specific candidate or catechumen, the Team member’s effort is directed toward the religious formation of all candidates, catechumens, inquirers and sponsors. Team members often specialize by becoming Catechists, facilitating Inquiry, Breaking Open the Word or providing hospitality.