Who participates in RCIA?
- Unbaptized Adults: The RCIA is primarily intended for unbaptized adults, who, upon hearing the Gospel message and receiving formation in the Christian way of life, choose to become followers of Christ by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
- Adults Baptized as Christians: The RCIA process also serves adults baptized in a Christian denomination or community who are now interested in living out their Christian life in the Catholic Church. Any baptism that has been performed with water and the Trinitarian formula (invoking the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is considered valid; therefore baptism is not repeated. Rather, we welcome these men and women into the full communion of the Catholic Church through their profession of faith and reception of the remaining sacraments of initiation: Confirmation and Eucharist.
- Adults Baptized Catholic: From time to time the RCIA includes adults who were baptized in the Catholic faith, but did not grow up practicing this faith or receiving regular formation or additional sacraments. While already a part of the full communion of the Catholic Church due to their Catholic baptism, these men and women are seeking to complete their sacraments of initiation with the celebration of Confirmation and Eucharist.
What is involved in RCIA? When does it start?
RCIA is comprised of a series of stages of formation (each with a slightly different focus) that are marked by ritual steps transitioning a person from one stage to the next.
- Our journey begins every fall with our first stage of formation. During this stage, we meet weekly for an hour and a half to begin to reflect on how God is calling us and what it means to have faith in Jesus. There is plenty of time to ask questions and discern if this is the right step for you.
- In November, we celebrate our first ritual which publicly marks our desire to officially enter formation for initiation into the Catholic Church. This ritual moves us into our second stage of formation. From this point on, we also attend Sunday Mass together, in addition to continuing our weeknight sessions. We reflect deeply on the Sunday scripture, and examine related Catholic beliefs, teachings, customs and traditions.
- At the beginning of Lent, (the 40 days prior to Easter), we celebrate another ritual to recognize our progress of being formed in the faith and signals our readiness to begin final preparations for receiving the sacraments. This third period of formation, which coincides with the season of Lent, is more reflective and prayerful, including many special celebrations and rituals passed down from the early Church.
- We celebrate the Sacraments and our full initiation into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Service (after sundown on Holy Saturday—the evening before Easter Sunday)! However, this is not the end, but rather the beginning of your life as a fully initiated disciple! We continue to meet for a fourth stage of formation, gathering a few times during the Easter Season (the 50 days after Easter) to help launch us into the next step of our faith journey and the rest of our lives as Catholic disciples of Christ.
What is the “goal” of RCIA?
The RCIA process is all about conversion—about growth and change taking place in our hearts and minds so that we can more fully live in relationship with God and each other. It is about deepening our faith, and exploring what belief in God means for our lives and how it is reflected in our actions. The purpose of this process is not to be able to check off a class requirement or to see how much information you can learn about the Catholic Church, but rather to assist you in becoming a living, breathing, active disciple of Christ!
A note for those with mixed feelings:
We are all on a journey. Many of us come to this process with different experiences of life and faith. Your thoughts about starting this process might range from “Great! When can I start?” to “Gee, this seems like an awful lot!” Wherever you are on that spectrum, our parish is excited and open to walking with you as you discern how God might be inviting you into a deeper relationship.
The RCIA process is definitely a commitment of time and energy, but each Easter we hear folks say it was time well spent and the months really flew by. We work hard to give you the experiences and tools you need to not only make this commitment of faith, but also to keep it!
If you are unsure this is the right step for you, know that we certainly welcome folks who are still exploring. RCIA at its best helps people find their way on their spiritual journey. If in that progress you discern this isn’t the right fit for you, or not the right time, that is ok, too!