Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)
What is the RCIA?
The letters "RCIA" stand for the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" and is a process of learning more about the Catholic Christian faith and/or is intended for adults who are thinking about becoming Catholic. The RCIA is a process where adults are guided in faith-conversion stages of life. The RCIA does not just focus on intellectual information of Church teaching but emphasizes the lived experiences of people. Each session presents an overview of Catholic Christian beliefs and provides an opportunity to ask questions and have discussion.
Drawing on the model of adult initiation from the "catechumenate" [Greek word for "someone under instruction"] in the ancient church, the RCIA process is a series of carefully planned stages; marked by liturgical rites in the presence of the whole community as the adult participants join us in a continuing and deepening conversion into faith and discipleship. The liturgical rites or rituals take place during Sunday Mass. The RCIA takes into account the distinctive history and spiritual needs of each person.
Who is invited?
Since the RCIA is an ongoing journey of renewal for individuals who are seeking full initiation with the Catholic faith community, it is intended for: 1) the unbaptized; 2) those baptized into another Christian faith tradition [denomination] but who want to explore the practice of Catholic Christianity; 3) baptized Catholics who where never formally educated or who for whatever reason never completed the sacraments of initiation [First Eucharist and/or Confirmation]. The RCIA exerts no pressure on people in any way; you will find yourself in a friendly and welcoming group where people are invited to ask questions and enter into discussion.
How long does the process last?
The RCIA takes into account each person's unique situation and faith journey but the norm is at least one [school] year model of preparation from September through June. Because each person's journey is unique to themselves, it is possible to step into the process at any time throughout the year.
The process involves gathering with other adults in a community setting for prayer, study of Catholic tradition, and reflection on the Scriptures. The preparation process includes: 1) weekly formation sessions; 2) weekly mass/dismissal sessions; 3) celebration of the various liturgical rites; 4) a discernment retreat. For more information on the RCIA, call the parish offices.
RCIA for Children
This form of the Rite of Christian Initiation is intended for children not baptized as infants, who have reached a catechetical [teaching] age of at least seven years. As with the adults, this is a gradual process that takes place within the community of faith and includes catechesis [Christian education] and participation in liturgical rituals on Sunday.
Full Christian initiation is celebrated in three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. For Catholics, the sacrament of baptism is the first step in a lifelong journey of faith and spiritual development. Parents requesting baptism for their children must be practicing Catholics consistently worshiping in a faith community before the baptism of their baby. Parents are also required to attend a baptism preparation class which looks at the history and theology of Christian Baptism. To schedule the baptism class and baptism date, call the parish office.
Parents are the first and best teachers of the faith for their children. In the reality of the faith life of small children, faith is more caught than taught. This happens in the day to day experiences of family life through words and example. In other words, children learn more about God and faith not from being "taught" but by the day to day example of the adults surrounding the child. When parents present their child for baptism, they are asked if they are willing to accept the responsibility of raising their child in the practice of the faith. By saying "yes" the parents [and godparents] make a promise to do their best in passing on faith to their child. The community of the Church relies on this promise and also promises to assist the parents in this responsibility.
For Catholics, the sacrament of marriage is a public, community sign of union between a man, woman and God. Requests for a wedding date must be made a minimum of six months prior to the desired wedding date. Participation in a program of marriage preparation is required and begins with a meeting with the pastor. Call the parish office for an appointment.
Approximately once a year we as a parish set aside a week for spiritual renewal. A parish mission is a renewal opportunity that involves the entire parish from the elderly to the young; it is not like the old time tent-revival missions of the 1950's but a renewal in the spirit of Vatican II that challenges us to understand the Good News and traditions of the Church in the light of today's culture. At each parish mission we invite in an outside spiritual guide to lead us in a five day reflection of what it means to live as a disciple of Jesus today. Look for more information in our weekly Witness & Worship church paper.