WHAT IS RCIA?
The letters “RCIA” stand for the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.” This is the official process in which one is baptized (Catechumens), professes faith to the Catholic Church (Candidate), or for a baptized Catholic to complete their initiation process with the Sacraments of First Communion and Confirmation. The full RCIA process consists of four periods of awaking, growth and formation called Inquiry or Pre-catechumenate, Catechumenate, Purification and Enlightenment, and finally The Mystagogia. There are also three major rites that involve the entire parish community of St. Anthony’s: The Rite of Acceptance, the Rite of Sending and Election, and the Sacraments of Initiation. This process varies in duration. For Catechumens and some Candidates, this process can be two years. Candidates and baptized Catholics seeking to complete their initiation, this process maybe one year. The difference in the duration of study depends on a person’s individual faith journey and knowledge in the beliefs and teaching of the Church. This process will be determined by the individual with the help of the catechists and the pastor.
DO I NEED A SPONSOR?
Yes, everyone will need a sponsor. A sponsor must be a practicing Catholic who has received the Sacrament of Confirmation. If you do not know anyone who can be a sponsor, inform the instructor as soon as possible, and we will find one for you. A sponsor can attend classes with you but it is not mandatory. There are dates in the year that will be mandatory for your sponsor. Please refer to your calendar for these dates.
I REALLY WANT TO BECOME CATHOLIC, WHY IS THE PROCESS SO LONG?
Being Baptized is a life long commitment. It is not just one action, but a way of life. That life includes living your life in fulfillment of the Gospel and the teaching of the Church, ministry to others, and attending Eucharist. Many people think they would like to be Catholic, just for the sake of being able to tell people that they are Catholic, but do not realize that it is a life long commitment. The Inquiry period helps individual make the decision that being baptized is what they really want. Only the individual, with the help of the Pastor and catechist, can make the decision when they are ready for taking the next step in that journey. That is why the process can be 6 months for some and two years for others.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CATECHUMEN AND CANDIDATE?
Catechumens are those who have never been baptized. Candidates are those who have been baptized in another Christian denomination that is recognized valid in the Catholic Church. Please ask about this during your first Inquiry session.
WHAT IS THE PROCESS IF I NEED FIRST COMMUNION OR CONFIRMATION?
Baptized Catholics who need the Sacrament of First Communion and Confirmation will attend the RCIA meetings. First Communion and Confirmation for these adults will be held during the Easter Vigil Initiation the night before Easter Sunday. Baptized Catholics who need the Sacrament of Confirmation ONLY, will be attending separate meetings during Lent and will be confirmed during our community’s Confirmation during the Easter season.
About the Inquiry Period
The Inquiry Period is the stage when an individual first contacts the church and is interviewed. If you are just seeking information regarding the Catholic faith and are not sure if baptism is what you want, you can attend the meetings to gain this knowledge. Most candidates have already made the decision to be baptized. This part of the Inquiry stage of gaining knowledge is not needed and candidates will enter the process of Initiation and attend our weekly meetings. Meetings are held on Monday evenings at 7:30pm in the school’s faculty lounge. Make up meetings are held on Saturday’s at 10:15am. Please consult the bulletin for the schedule of make up meetings. This period of Inquiry ends with the Rite of Acceptance, the formal process with the parish community that the pre-catechumen desires to continue with their initiation process. The Rite of Acceptance is held periodically throughout the year when needed. The Initiation process continues with the RCIA meetings.
About RCIA Meetings
After attending the Inquiry meetings, individuals will receive the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens or the Rite of Welcoming for Candidates. These are held periodically throughout the year when needed. The Catechumenate Period is for formal study of Church teachings, by a deeper commitment to living the Christian life, prayer, and by witness of their faith to the world. All RCIA meetings are held on Monday evening in the school faculty lounge beginning at 7:30pm and continue until the catechumen are ready to receive the Initiation Sacraments. Make up meetings are held on Saturdays at 10:15am and please see the bulletin for the schedule.
Next, during the season of Lent the Catechemens receive the Rite of Sending from St. Anthony’s to attend the Rite of Election at Our Lady Queen of the Angels Cathedral. During the Rite of Election the names of the Catechumens are inscribed in the Book of the Elect and the Candidates commit to continuing conversion and are now called the “Elect”. This Period of Purification and Enlightenment begins the final preparation for Initiation. On the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent, the Scrutinies are held. The Scrutinies are special prayers for the Elect “to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good” (RCIA no. 141) The candidates have similar Rites and attend the Rite of Continued Conversion at the Cathedral.
The Rites of Initiation occur at the Easter Vigil (the night before Easter Sunday). The Elect are baptized and confirmed, and the Candidates profess faith and are confirmed. Then the new Catholics and those to receive First Communion will complete their initiation by approaching the Lords table for the first time to receive His Body and Blood as full members of the Church.
The final period is Mystagogia (coming from the Greek meaning “interpretation of mystery”). During this final period, from Easter to Pentecost, the newly initiated deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery and make it part of their lives through the Gospel, the Eucharist, and works of charity.