THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process through which interested adults and older children are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life.
FOR WHOM IS THE RCIA DESIGNED FOR?
The RCIA is for three groups:
(1) Those who are not yet baptized. The RCIA process refers to brethren in this category as "catechumen."
(2) Those who were baptized into another Christian denomination under the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The RCIA process refers to brethren in this category as "candidates."
(3) Catholics who were never formed in the Catholic faith and have not completed their initiation; that is, who have received neither of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation.
FOUR STAGES IN THE CONVERSION JOURNEY
There are 4 separate stages included in the RCIA:
(1) Period of Evangelization & Precatechumenate
(2) Period of the Catechumenate
(3) Period of Purification and Enlightenment
(4) Period of the Post Baptismal Catechesis (Mystagogy)
During the Second Vatican Council, there was a call for the reinstatement of the Catechumenate. In 1966, the provisional ritual was distributed, followed in 1969 by a second draft. In 1972, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults.
When you're ready to take that first step toward RCIA- or for more information- explore our Vicariate Directory to contact a Catholic Church in our area. If you're not in or around the Downriver Vicariate or Archdiocese of Detroit, please explore this Worldwide Catholic Directory.
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION FOR ADULTS:
THE PROCESS & PERIODS
Period of Inquiry/Catechumenate. This is a time of introduction to the gospel of Jesus Christ and a time of reflection on one's own life in the light of the values of the reign of God. It is an unstructured time of no fixed duration for questions and an opportunity of the beginnings of Christian faith to form.
Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. In this liturgical rite, those who wish to become catechumens publicly express their desire to follow the way of Jesus. The Church accepts their intention and welcomes them into the household of Faith as catechumens.
Period of the Catechumenate. Along with the whole community, catechumens celebrate the liturgy of the word at Mass each Sunday. After the homily, the catechumens and their catechists (teachers) continue to study and ponder the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church. During this time, catechumens receive anointings, participate in prayers of exorcism and blessing, and take part in the mission of the Church to the world. 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.
Election or Enrollment of Names. At this liturgical rite, usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent in the cathedral of the diocese, the bishop formally acknowledges the readiness of the catechumens and calls them to the sacraments of initiation. The catechumens respond by expressing their desire for these sacraments. From this time, until they are baptized, they are called the elect.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This time of intense preparation for initiation usually coincides with Lent. During this period, the elect and the parish community together focus on conversion, scrutinize their lives in light of the gospel and celebrate the presentations of the Creed and Lord's Prayer.
Sacraments of Initiation. The elect become full members of the Body of Christ, the Church, through the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, usually at the Easter Vigil. From this time until the end of the period of mystagogy, they are known as neophytes, "new sprouts."
Period of Mystagogy. During the fifty-day season of Easter, neophytes ponder the experience and meaning of the sacraments and participate with the faithful in the Eucharistic life of the Church and its mission for justice and peace. Formation and teaching continue for one year to help the neophytes become incorporated into the full life of the Christian community.
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN?
CAN THEY CONVERT? HOW?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the norm for initiation of all adults; it applies also to children of catechetical age (generally age seven). In regard to Sacraments of Initiation, children attain the status of adults at the age of reason under our Code of Canon Law (RCIA 18).
Thus, any child not baptized that is over the age of reason and desires to become Catholic can participate in the Christian Initiation process which leads them to the celebration of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and (if applicable) Confirmation. If the child has been baptized under the Trinity, they would join other children of the same age in our Religious Education classes.
The RCIA process is adapted to meet the specific needs of children and youth. We have a very Christ-like and experienced Director of Religious Education who can assist you with any questions you may have. Give us a call anytime!