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Right of Christian Initiation for Adults


What is RCIA?

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is the journey or process by which a person (an inquirer) of catechetical age encounters Christ, becomes more acquainted with the Christian faith, commits his/her life to becoming a disciple/follower of Christ, that is, experiences initial conversion, and becomes a member of his Mystical Body, the Catholic Church. Ultimately, RCIA is a journey to a restored relationship with the Father in and through his Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Thus, this process involves a wholistic approach, which includes not only intellectual formation, but human, pastoral, spiritual, as well as apostolic. RCIA, then, is the process by which someone is introduced, trained, and initiated in the Christian way of life, which only begins with the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. 

Important Forms for the RCIA Process

Rite of Election Parish Schedule 2024Rite of Election Registration FormGodparent/Sponsor Form
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What is the process?

The RCIA process is broken down into four significant stages, some of which include a number of steps or rites: Evangelization and the Pre-catechumenate, the Catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment, and Post Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy. Each candidate or “inquirer” goes through each of these stages at a pace that allows for the following things to happen: receive a basic understanding of the Gospel and all the aspects of the Christian way of life, which include prayer, morals, and Christian doctrine; have an initial conversion, which must take place before the “inquirer” receives the Rite of Acceptance into the order of the Catechumens; build a solid relationship with Christ and began to live as his committed disciple; become organically integrated into the local Christian community; receive the Sacrament of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion; and learn about the importance of ongoing Christian growth and participation in the Church’s mission of evangelization. This process is at least 2 years but can be as long as needed so that the candidate matures enough in their conversion and faith (see RCIA #75…, Study Edition). 

Where do I begin?

If you are interested in learning more about the Catholic faith or if you want to become Catholic, please contact the parish closest to you at the link below.

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The Four Stages

Evangelization and the Pre-catechumenate

This stage or period can be summed up in two words: search and commitment. During the period of Evangelization and the Pre-catechumenate, the “inquirer” first comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, has an opportunity to hear and respond the Gospel message by acquiring a basic understand of its implications to their life and freely convert to Christ, who as the Way, the Truth, and the Life satisfies their deepest longings (see RICA Study Edition, #36). Of course, if the “inquirer” is not ready to make such a commitment, their “search” continues until they are ready to make this commitment. If the “inquirer” is ready to commit their life to Christ, then he or she is formally accepted into the next period of initiation by receiving the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of the Catechumens. 

The Catechumenate

“The Catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life. [see Ad Gentes, 14] In this way, the dispositions manifested at their acceptance into the catechumenate are brought to maturity…The duration of this stage will depend on the grace of God and on various circumstances, such as the program of instruction for the catechumenate, the number of catechists,  deacons, and priests, the cooperation of the individual catechumens, the means necessary for them to come to the site of the catechumenate and spend time there, the help of the local community…The time spent in the catechumenate should be long enough–several years if necessary–for the conversion and faith of the catechumens to become strong. By their formation in the entire Christian life and a sufficiently prolonged probation the catechumens are properly initiated into the mysteries of salvation and the practice of an evangelical way of life. By means of sacred rites celebrated at successive times they are led into the life of faith, worship, and charity belonging to the people of God” (RCIA, #75-76). 

Purification and Enlightenment

This period begins with the Rite of Election and coincides with Lent. It is primarily a time “of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their own consciences and do penance. This period is intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior. The celebration of certain rites, particularly the Scrutinies (see RCIA 141-146) and the Presentations (see RCIA 147-149), brings about this process of purification and enlightenment and extends it over the course of the entire Lenten season” (RICA 139). The period of Purification and Enlightenment is thus more a time of retreat-like feel that aims at helping the elect achieve a spirit of recollections in preparation for the celebration of the Paschal Mystery and the reception of the Sacraments of initiation.   

Post Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy

This period begins after the reception of the Sacraments of Initiations and refers to the immediate fifty days of Easter, as well as the neophyte year, in which the newly baptized Christian or the “newly planted”, as the term suggests, continues to receive catechesis in order to deepen their understanding of the Christian mysteries and the new life they have received: “This is a time for the community and the neophytes together to grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist, and doing the works of charity. The neophytes are…introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of mysteries through the Gospel message they have learned and above all through their experience of the sacraments they have received.” (RICA 244-245). This period concluded on the anniversary of neophyte’s reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.