“…and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.” Ephesians 4:23-24
How does a person become Catholic?
There are several ways. The Catholic Church warmly welcomes new members and tries to provide appropriate spiritual formation according to each person’s needs at any time throughout the year. In general, though, people who are becoming Catholic fall into three categories: infants and young children; people who, whether baptized or unbaptized, have had little or no religious training in the Christian faith; and baptized people who have been active members in other Christian denominations.
Infants and Young Children
In the case of young children, it is the parents who prepare for the baptism and make the baptismal promises on their children’s behalf. Parents of children seven years old and younger should contact the parish office for information on baptismal preparation. Children eight years and older are baptized through the RCIA, attending sessions along with their parents for about a year.
Persons with Little Christian Formation
For these persons the full RCIA is the way into the Catholic Church. The RCIA is primarily for unbaptized adults, but adapted Rites may also be celebrated for baptized, uncatechized adults.
Baptized Christians Who Have a Solid Formation in Faith
These persons need an understanding of Catholic belief, an experience of Catholic liturgy/liturgical year, and an acquaintance with the Catholic community. They are to be admitted as quickly as possible to the Eucharistic table. These persons will not need to enter the full RCIA process, but may take advantage of RCIA sessions and adult faith formation opportunities until they are prepared to make a Profession of Faith and be Confirmed as Catholics.
What is Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which people can question, search, and inquire into the Catholic faith. Some are deciding if they are called into the Catholic Church; others have been Catholic all their lives and are now interested in discovering what this really means. Together we witness to the fact that our search for God is a lifelong journey, a journey on which we make the most progress when we walk it with others and with intention.It is a journey which leads many to seek full membership in our Church. For others this journey may not lead to full membership. There is no set timetable, however, on average the process takes between eight to twelve months. Those who enter the process are expected to attend Mass on Sunday, attend a weekly RCIA session, and become increasingly more involved in parish activities.
If you would like to talk about where you are, or if you are curious about our Church and our faith, or even if you’ve been attending Mass here and would like to find out about possibly joining, this is where to begin! All are welcome to come and see, to ask questions, and to look more deeply.
RCIA is a Journey…
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a process that proceeds over weeks and months. It has several steps:
This is the earliest phase in the process; it is also known as the Period of Inquiry. Catechumens and Candidates acknowledge that Christ is calling them into the Church through the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is a time for seeking and reflection. There are no commitments, and coming to inquire doesn’t mean you have to join the Church. These groups are formed with 8-15 people who are interested in learning more about the faith. They are led by an experienced group of leaders who are knowledgeable in the Catholic faith and understand the 101 questions you might have during this initial period.
Rite of Acceptance
In the Rite of Acceptance, the inquirors accept theGospel for the first time and commit themselves to a Christian way of life in the Catholic Church. The church in turn pledges its support for them.
The longest part of the process, the Catechumenate is a time of learning and formation in the traditions and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a time for sharing stories, reading scripture, and studying the Church customs, traditions and doctrine. Participants also participate in worship services and various Church rituals.
Rite of Election
Catechumens and Candidates are chosen to be received by the bishop and the community and to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.
Sacraments of Initiation
For those who are called to full membership in the Church, the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) are celebrated at Easter Vigil. People can be received into the Church at any time, but the Easter Vigil, held on Saturday evening before Easter Sunday, is a very special night and the liturgy is most appropriate for the reception of new members, especially those who will be baptized for the first time.
This is a time of reflection and celebration after the formal reception into the Catholic Church. Mystagogia means “leading into the mystery” and it is a time to explore the deep mystery of our faith and go forth to help build the reign of God on Earth as new members of the faithful.
Important Tools for the Process
The “tools” used in formation at St. Monica Parish are the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We will provide these for you.The most important resources, however, are your sponsor and faith community.
The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is an important resource during RCIA. You will receive a copy from St. Monica church when you begin the RCIA process. You can also access the Cathechism on the St. Monica App, available free in your smartphone’s App Store.
People journeying through the RCIA process need sponsors and community support to help them grow in faith. The RCIA team of sponsors help guide, support and instruct those discerning whether to become members of our Catholic community. Team members share their faith with inquiring adults who are seeking more information about the Catholic Church, many of whom seek to celebrate one or more of the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.