Adult Faith Formation
RCIA - Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
How does a person become a Catholic?
What is the first step?
Anyone who is thinking about becoming a Catholic Christian or who would like more information can contact the nearest Catholic parish. Inquire about the process of Christian Initiation for Adults.
What is RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation is designed for Adults who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts. By God's help they will be strengthened spiritually during their preparation and at the proper time will receive the sacraments fruitfully.
This Rite includes not simply the celebration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist, but also all the rites belonging to the catechumenate.
(Rite of CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS, 1987, CCCB, INTRODUCTION #1, 2)
What is the catechumenate?
The catechumenate is the period of time after the Rite of Acceptance where the one inquiring about the way of Catholic faith, is welcomed into the community to further growth in discipleship with Jesus.
This process goes back to the early Church where those desiring to be baptized, were immersed in the Christian community. Here they learned to share all things in common. They grew in faith as they heard the stories of Jesus and saw how each Christian's story was modelled on the life of Jesus. (cf. ACTS of the Apostles 2: 42- 47)
"The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful." (INTRODUCTION #4)
How long is the process?
This depends on the individual. There is no calendar time to determine the readiness of each person.
Called by Name
The Rite of Election and the Rite of Acceptance are key moments in the process of Christian Initiation.
The Rite of Election is the celebration in which the local bishop calls the catechumens to baptism at the upcoming Easter Vigil. These women and men, who have been preparing for initiation and those who have been working with them for months and years, believe that God has chosen them to become one of us, the baptized. In the Rite of Election, their godparents, sponsors, catechists, pastors and friends will testify before the bishop that God has chosen these people. They will offer the evidence of their lives among us, hearing and following God's word, praying with God's people and taking part in the work and the communal life of God's church. After listening to this testimony, the bishop will declare that they are elected for baptism, chosen to be God's own in Christ Jesus - not because they earned It, but because God wants it.
Since the bishop is the head of the local church, it is his responsibility to oversee the initiation of new members. Ideally, it would be the bishop who would initiate the catechumens through the Celebration of baptism, confirmation and eucharist. However, since it would be impossible for the bishop to be in every parish to celebrate the Easter Vigil, in the Rite of the Election the bishop, on behalf of the whole church, chooses those to be baptized and mandates the local pastors to initiate the catechumens of their parish.
The Rite of Acceptance recognizes those individuals (candidates) who have been baptized in other Christian churches and now wish to be accepted as members of our Catholic Faith. In the Rite of Acceptance, the bishop listens to the testimony of those responsible for the formation of these Individuals declaring their readiness to be one with us in Our Catholic Faith. He accepts these Christian bothers and sisters for the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist, thereby entering into full communion with our Catholic Community.
Written by Fr. Darrin J.G. Gurr, the Chair of the Liturgical Commission for the Archdiocese and Rector of St. Mary's Cathedral.