Information about The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Welcome! You are invited to learn more about the journey towards Christian faith. What follows is a summary of the Catholic Church’s process for growing into deeper faith, and celebrating the Sacraments in the Church as an adult.
What is RCIA – The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (often abbreviated RCIA) is the process through which interested adults and older children are gradually introduced to the Catholic faith and way of life, and received into the full sacramental life of the church through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.
To understand the RCIA, it is important to recall that it is an adult journey of change, growth and conversion. It is the journey by which we deepen our faith in Christ, join the Catholic Church, and live the Christian way of life and prayer in the world.
What is involved in the RCIA Process?
The process involves a journey linked to the liturgical year, and lasting anywhere from several months to a year or more depending on the needs of the individual. It is an “apprenticeship” in the Christian life and involves four separate phases, with special rituals throughout.
First Stage: Period of Inquiry
The pre-Catechumenate has no fixed duration and is the least formal and structured of all the phases. The main purpose is to give the inquirer an opportunity to question and explore many different aspects of the Catholic faith, while introducing the person and message of Jesus Christ. Within this phase, the beginnings of Christian faith start to become evident, and the enquirer begins to relate more closely to the Christian community.
Second Stage: Rite of Acceptance / Catechumenate
This is by far the longest and most formal part of the process. During this phase the catechumen (learner) participates with the whole Catholic community in their Sunday celebrations. The catechumen participates by sharing in the Liturgy of the Word. Through prayer, learning and coming to know other Catholic Christians, catechumens discover the love and power of God in their lives and in the church. This phase offers not only intellectual and faith formation, but also growth in prayers, Christian service and Parish life. The focus is on conversion of heart, through prayer and good works, but also of conversion of the mind, in which we start to see through the eyes of God, to think, perceive and act as Christ calls us to in our lives. During this time, catechumens receive anointings, participate in prayers of exorcism (healing and strengthening) and blessings, which assists this conversion. The Scriptures are central to the catechumenate stage of formation.
Third Stage: The Rite of Election / The Period of Purification & Enlightenment
This phase takes place during Lent, and is marked by 3 community celebrations known as Scrutinies(ceremonies of healing). During this period, the elect (called and chosen for the Sacraments), and the parish community together focus on conversion, reveiw their lives in light of the gospel and celebrate the presentations of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer. These scrutinies coincide with the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sunday’s of Lent, and they ask God for healing and forgiveness of the elect.
Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The elect are fully incorporated into Christ and the Church by Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. The elect become full members of the Body of Christ, the Church. From this time until the end of the period of mystagogy, they are known as neophytes: “newly born” Christians.
Fourth Stage: Mystagogy
This is an important period of reflection by the newly initiated with their parish community. The formation and teaching continues during this time, in order to help the neophytes become incorporated into the full life of the Christian community. They are assisted to discern their gifts and are integrated more deeply into the life, worship and mission of the parish.
It is important to note that the fourth stage may be the end or final stage of the RCIA process, but it is only the first stage of the rest of their lives as a fully active and participating member of the Catholic Church and its mission.
How do I find out more?
If you are interested in finding out more about the RCIA process available in your area, then please make contact with your local parish office.
How can I help with RCIA?
There are many ways you can help candidates and catechumens in the faith formation through RCIA, from offering support as a sponsor, through to helping run the RCIA process in your parish. To learn more about being involved in the RCIA process, please contact your local parish.