RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, and it’s the program through we the Church uses to bring converts into the Church. The RCIA is a formation program, not just an education program. There are three periods leading up to baptism and acceptance into the Church at Easter; they are the Period of Inquiry, the Catechumenate, and the Period of Purification and Enlightenment.
It begins with the period of inquiry, where the potential convert is getting information about the faith and the Church, asking questions, and deciding whether they want to continue with the formation process. This ends with the Rite of Acceptance where those who have decided to continue state their intention and the Church accepts them as a Catechumen. A catechumen is a student, so this period includes more instruction in the faith, going deeper into the Holy Bible and Holy Tradition, developing habits of prayer, and beginning to practice the faith.
The Catechumenate ends with the Rite of Election at the beginning of Lent, where the catechumens are chosen by the Church to become Catholics at Easter. During Lent, the Catechumens begin their final preparations to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation at Easter and to receive the Holy Eucharist for the first time.
This whole process is based on the way that ancient Christians welcomed new members into the Church and prepared them to receive their sacraments. When we are baptized and confirmed, as in all of the Sacraments, we accept the responsibility of living as a child of God and practicing the faith in our lives. We don’t want to just throw people into the deep end; we want to prepare them to thrive in their new lives as followers of Christ and to continue to grow closer to Him for the rest of their lives, so they can join Him forever in heaven.
We are getting ready to begin a new group in the RCIA in September. If you are interested in converting to Catholicism or if you are a Catholic who still needs to make their Confirmation contact the office for more information. If you know someone who fits these categories, please give them this article and let them know that they are welcome to join us.
Next Week: Participation at Mass
Fr. Bryan became pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on July 3, 2017. Read his bio here.