The R.C.I.A. is the process that welcomes and introduces adult inquirers (18 years of age and older), who have felt the call of God to join our Catholic Faith. The initiation process is primarily for those who are not baptized, or baptized in another Christian tradition, or for those who may have been baptized in the Catholic tradition but have never been catechized and/or fully initiated (have not received Eucharist and Confirmation).
The emphasis in the initiation process is on one’s relationship with God, on commitment to Christ, on conversion and discipleship. This involves our head, heart and hands. We know the Lord, love the Lord and serve the Lord.
At St. Francis de Sales, an inquirer is welcomed and begins the journey whenever he or she approaches the parish. All inquirers receive full support of their sponsors and the R.C.I.A. service team of volunteers. A sponsor is a parishioner who walks with the inquirer, ready to be a guide, witness and mentor. The sponsor is a faith-filled person who participates in the weekly Sunday Eucharist and lives a Catholic lifestyle.
The formation process includes a lengthy period of time for suitable catechesis and formation in Christian living. As a time of apprenticeship, Christian formation includes handing on Word and Tradition, liturgical rites of our Church and being immersed in the life of the community including apostolic works.
The rite leads to the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation. This sacramental celebration draws the participants into the saving mystery of Jesus Christ and the paschal life of the Church. The Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) are always celebrated in a single rite since they draw the person into the one mystery, Jesus Christ.
What are the periods of R.C.I.A.?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults includes times of formation known as periods. At the conclusion of each period the Church celebrates a major liturgical rite. The liturgical rites are described as milestones that mark the initiation journey.
The Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate is a time for sharing the Good News. This time of inquiry is of no fixed length. Before the first rite is celebrated the inquirer will have experienced the beginnings of faith, begun the practice of prayer and have a sense of Church.
After a conversation with a priest, the “inquirer” may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance. The Rite of Acceptance is celebrated with the unbaptized inquirers within the context of Sunday Liturgy. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst St. Francis de Sales community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a “catechumen.”
The Period of the Catechumenate is an extended time of pastoral formation. The catechumens are trained in the Christian life. This time of formation may be described as a time of apprenticeship. Suitable catechesis includes handing on the Word and Tradition, appropriate liturgical celebrations, including the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday, being immersed in the life of the community and learning to live an apostolic life. On Sunday, the catechumens are kindly dismissed following the homily and invited to gather with a leader to break open God’s Word and to be nourished and formed by the real presence of Christ in the proclaimed Word.
The Catechumenate is of no fixed length and the duration will depend upon the grace of God and on various circumstances. Through the formation and appropriate liturgical rites the catechumens are “led into the life of faith, worship, and charity belonging to the people of God.”
The Rite of Election marks the transition from the period of the Catechumenate to the final intense period of preparation. The Rite of Election is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent. God has called the catechumens and the Church affirms this call. The Church elects them to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation at the next Easter Vigil. The catechumens are declared to be members of the elect.
Lent is the Period of Purification and Enlightenment leading up to the Easter Vigil. It is a period of spiritual preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the elect, and prayers for them by the parish communities.
During the Period of Purification and Enlightenment the Church celebrates three scrutinies with the elect. They are celebrated on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sunday of Lent and the Year A readings and prayers are proclaimed. The Presentation of the Creed during the 3rd week of Lent and the Lord’s Prayer during the 5th week of Lent are part of this period.
The Church gathers with the elect on Holy Saturday for the preparatory rites and then at the Easter Vigil the elect of God are immersed into the Paschal Mystery as they celebrate the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist.
The final 50 day period of the initiation journey is known as the Period of Mystagogy or Post Baptismal Catechesis. This period is a time for the neophytes (newly baptized) and all of the faithful to deepen their grasp of the Paschal Mystery by reflecting on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist and doing the works of charity.
What is meant when people refer to men and women coming into “full communion with the Church”?
Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for men and women who are baptized Christians but not Roman Catholics. These individuals make a profession of faith but are not baptized again. To prepare for this reception, the people, who are called “candidates,” usually participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church.
Please contact the parish office for more information.