Rite of Christian Initiation (R.C.I.A.)

R.C.I.A. is the communal process by which non-Catholics can become full members of the Catholic Church. It is for people who were never baptized or who were baptized in a non-Catholic Christian tradition. Also, by participating in this process, those baptized Catholics who have not been confirmed or who have not received the sacrament of the Eucharist can be prepared to receive these sacraments.

The RCIA process was introduced as a result of the Second Vatican Council, where a return to the ancient practice of Christian initiation was viewed as the proper form for the modern world. Prior to Vatican II, Christian initiation had evolved from the ancient practice to the form of individual private instruction with a priest. Although the private process has its merits, the Council wanted to reintroduce the community aspect of the initiation process, as well as liturgical and the other elements contained within the Rite.

Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate

This is also known as the Period of Inquiry. During this period, information sessions are held for people who are interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith. These sessions cover basic information about the Faith. There is no obligation involved in attending these meetings — they are intended to help a person decide whether they want to continue learning about the Faith. Attendees at this stage are know as Inquirers.

The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens

The Inquirers who wish to continue now move onto the next stage, which is known as the Period of the Catechumenate. The Inquirers who are not already baptised are welcomed to this next stage via the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. As they enter this Rite they are known as Candidates. As they leave this Rite they are now referred to as Catechumens.

The Rite of Welcoming for Candidates

The Inquirers who have already been validly baptized in another Christian Faith are welcomed to this next stage via the Rite of Welcoming for Candidates. They enter this Rite known as Candidates, and they are known by this title from now on.

Period of 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.

The period of the Catechumenate is a time for:

  • Learning about the basic teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Church
  • Continuing to build community within the group
  • Getting more involved in parish activities, getting to know the parish community
  • Exploring important and foundational Scripture passages
  • Continuing to examine God’s presence in our lives, past and present
  • Developing prayer life,
  • Developing or improving our relationship with God

Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names for those who are unbaptised and the Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion for those who are baptized.

This is a very significant and important step in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent at the Diocesan Cathedral, led by Archbishop Chaput. All of the Catechumens and Candidates, their Godparents (for Catechumens) and Sponsors (for Catechumens and Candidates) gather together on this day. It often involves hundreds of people coming together for this occasion. The Church formally ratifies the Catechumens’ readiness for the Sacraments of Initiation, and the Candidates’ readiness to be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church. In turn the Catechumens – from now on known as the Elect – publicly acknowledge their desire to receive the Sacraments of Initiation, and the Candidates’ their desire to be received into full Communion with the Catholic Church.

Period of Purification and Enlightenment

This period tends to correspond with Lent and is intended to be a period of increased introspection and coming closer to God. The aim of this period is to eliminate what is weak and sinful; and affirm what is holy. During this period the Catechumens undertake a number of Rites, including the Scrutinies and Presentations:

First Scrutiny (3rd Sunday of Lent)
The Presentation of the Creed (3rd Week of Lent)
Second Scrutiny (4th Sunday of Lent)
Third Scrutiny (5th Sunday of Lent)
The Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer (5th Week of Lent)

Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

At the Easter Vigil the celebration of three sacraments takes place. The sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist (Holy Communion), and Confirmation. The Catachumens celebrate all of these while the Cadidates(having already been Baptized) only celebrate the Eucharist and Confirmation. The Catechumens now called Neophytes, and are considered to be full members of the Catholic Church.

Period of Post-Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy

Mystagogy is a fifty day period which lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday. Penetecost Sunday marks the end of the Easter season. The conclusion of the Mystagogy period marks the end of the formal process of Christian formation.

Mystagogy is a time for the Community and the Neophytes {and those who have been received into full Communion with the Catholic Church} 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.
From the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

This period should be used to introduce the Neophytes and those who have been received into full Communion with the Catholic Church to the groups and organizations established in the Parish.

This period often comes to a close with the celebration of Holy Mass for new Catholics held at the local Diocesan Cathedral.

If you would like more information or if you are interested in participating in the RCIA process, please call Shawn Tobin at 215-357-2130.

Saint Bede the Venerable Parish - 1071 Holland Road - Holland, PA 18966 - 215-357-5720
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