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  #1  
Old Jul 12, '04, 8:48 pm
copland copland is offline
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Default RCIA classes. What to expect?

I am trying to get into some RCIA classes. I really don;t have much idea what it is about or how it is done. But I have been trying to contact one parish in my area and they don't know how to fish for men even when they jump in the boat like I am trying to do. I can't get anybody to help me out much there. But I do have another parish that has one member who promised to find out some things for me.

But what is the norm with RCIA? When do they usually do it, and how is it usually taught?
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  #2  
Old Jul 12, '04, 9:13 pm
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

RCIA is a process that takes place along the Spiritual path to Christ. The norm is for you to enter into an "Inquiry" process for a few weeks to a few months. A Sponsor will be assigned to you if you do not have someone in mind at the beginning of the Inquiry. When you, your Sponsor, a member of the RCIA team and the Pastor feel you are ready to take the next step. You will go through a liturgical Rite called "Acceptance" for those not Baptized or "Welcome" for those who are. After spending any where frm a few months to year or more. during which you will learn and study the Christian faith and the Catholic parctice of living it out. Things like the Mass, the Sacraments, The Scriptures, prayer, and so on will be covered. Again when you, your Sponsor, members of the RCIA team and the Pastor feel you are ready to take the next step. If not Baptized during the Lenten season you will participate in the "Rite of Election" and will begin an internal reflection process preparing for the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. If already Baptized you will participate in the "Rite of Continuing conversion" and begin to be received into full communion with the Church by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) and then either at the Easter Vigil or on another Sunday will receive Confirmation and First Communion. All who are received into the Church or who are Baptized at Easter then spend a year in Mystagogy. Meeting in Small Christian Communities in homes or other places to reflect on your experiences and learn from each other.


That is a short explaination of theform of the RCIA as it is supposed to take place..
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  #3  
Old Jul 12, '04, 9:18 pm
JimG JimG is online now
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

It usually begins in August or September with 6 weeks of what is called pre-catechumenate--small groups which may meet in church facilities or in someone's home.

This is followed by the formal instruction program, which generally runs through Holy Week--the week before Easter, at which point the candidates (previously baptized) and catechumens (unbaptized) are brought into the Church during the Easter Vigil. This is generally followed by continuing formation program called Mystagogy, which goes until Pentecost.

Some parishes run a RCIA program year round.

JimG
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  #4  
Old Jul 12, '04, 9:19 pm
Hananiah Hananiah is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

RCIA usually consists of bi-weekly (weekly starting lent) meetings where you will discuss Catholicism and get some basic instructions regarding Catholic beliefs and practices. It lasts from whenever you start until Easter Vigil. If you come late you can get by with only 3 months or so of RCIA. If you start coming at the very beginning you will probably be going for about 8 months. The quality of instruction depends on the parish. When I went this past year they spoon fed us anathema (nothing sinful about sodomy, extra ecclesiam nulla salusis heresy, etc.) If you can find either a Latin Mass parish or an Eastern Rite parish near you I would recommend going to RCIA there, as they are on average more orthodox than parishes which use the Novus Ordo Missae. You can find directories at these websites:

www.latinmass.org
www.byzcath.org

I would also recommend that you endeavor to learn about Catholicism on your own, since you can never be sure what you will get at RCIA. Try the Catechism of the Council of Trent, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, anything by St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Therese of Leseuix, St. John of the Cross, St. Alphonsus Liogouri, St. Thomas Aquinas, Hilaire Belloc, or Dietrich Von Hildebrand, the encyclical letters of Popes Leo XIII and Pius IX-XII, and Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Dr. Ludwig Ott.
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  #5  
Old Jul 13, '04, 4:06 am
Mary3 Mary3 is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by copland
I am trying to get into some RCIA classes. I really don;t have much idea what it is about or how it is done. But I have been trying to contact one parish in my area and they don't know how to fish for men even when they jump in the boat like I am trying to do. I can't get anybody to help me out much there. But I do have another parish that has one member who promised to find out some things for me.

But what is the norm with RCIA? When do they usually do it, and how is it usually taught?
I am so sorry to hear of your difficulties with enrolling in RCIA, but I sympathize. I encountered some of the same troubles with 'jumping into the boat' 5 years ago.

Don't give up. Keep looking and you will find a parish to welcome you. I find that RCIA has many different 'flavors' depending on the parish. In my current parish, the program has morphed a little bit every year. Right now, it is continuous, which I think is a good thing so that new people don't have to wait to be enrolled. We now have enough volunteers to separate out the inquirers class (which is open to newcomers all the time) from the catachumen / candidate class that runs on more of a curriculum based schedule.

The catachumen/ candidate class generally starts over again sometime in August / September. The class meets weekly. Rite of Acceptance occurs during the first Sunday of Advent for those who are ready to make that committment. Meetings continue through Lent. Around the 3rd Sunday of Lent, the catachumens / candidates are presented to the Bishop in the Rite of Election / Sending respectively. The final entrance to the Church occurs at the Liturgy of the Easter Vigil the night before Easter. Instruction and meetings may continue through Pentecost during the period referred to as the Mystigogia.

In all these classes you are being instructed in Catholic practice and doctrine. This part of the RCIA program is highly variable by parish. Likewise, I'm sure the people are more or less welcoming depending on the parish. Welcome to the journey, and I pray you will find a parish that receives you with open arms. RCIA can be a very comforting and helpful experience, and I hope yours will be once you find the right parish.
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  #6  
Old Jul 13, '04, 8:45 am
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

It is sad since the RCIA is not "highly variable by parish". It is specifically spelled out in the Rite. I would agree that it may be implemented poorly and incorrectly in many parishes. For instance from the Rite of Acceptance a person should experience "One Full Liturgical year" So by that standard if a person experiences the Rite of Acceptance in Advent they should continus at least until the next Advent and then since adults are not Baptized outside the Easter Vigil (norm) another 6 months. They would spend about 18 months in the RCIA process. Candidates (Baptized) are different they will spend differing amounts of time and each individual case is different. Sometimes if an Annulment is involved they too can be there for 12 to 24 months. Some Candidates could enter in as little as 4 to 6 months, including Inquiry. It is by no means a cookie cutter program

It's not a twice a month September to May program and was never intended to be. It is a Faith process that takes as along as it takes and is really a life long journey.
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  #7  
Old Jul 13, '04, 1:34 pm
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Hi Copland,

What you in fact get varies from parish to parish. Look up the phone number of the parish in their sunday bulletin or in the phone book. The parish secretary can tell you who to talk to, probably the DRE (director of religious education). They may find out where you are in your conversion or investigation process and then tell you to attend the classes. In my parish it is weekly classes on Sunday inbetween the masses for 1 hour. Classes run from Sept/Oct up to Easter Vigil (Saturday before Easter Sunday), and then a few weeks after that in a phase called mystogogy.

On Easter Vigil, those who want to are baptized, receive first Eucharist, and/or are confirmed. It depends on which sacraments you haven't had yet.

The classes consist of lessons about history (father Abraham, Exodus from Egypt and other bible things), lessons about sacraments, lessons about who is Jesus, stuff like that. They have a discussion format, so you get to ask whatever questions you want, and there is an RCIA team of regular parishioners who go to the classes to set up, get coffee, answer questions, witness to faith, etc. (I do this).

At various intervals in the RCIA process, they have the parish pray for you or you go to the cathedral to be prayed over. These prayer services are called things like the Rite of Sending or the Rite of Election, etc.

Your goal in the process of attending RCIA is to get your questions answered, find out info about the Church and about Jesus and Prayer and other topics, to discern (figure out by praying about it) if you are being called by God to join the Church at this time or not, and to become closer to Christ through prayer and study of bible and other materials. It is a journey or a process.

If you don't know any Catholics to be your resource to call on the phone with your impromtu questions, the parish will assign a Catholic to you. They are called your sponsor and they stand up with you on Easter Vigil when you get confirmed or whatnot. They are sort of like what you might know as a godparent, except it is different for an adult, of course.

Oh, also in my parish the RCIA people who are not yet baptized, for example, go to part of the Sunday mass, and then they leave after the homily and gospel to discuss the gospel together in a group. This is in addition to the 1 hour meetings. So they are trying to get you to think about the gospel and to learn to think about the bible and to pray with the Holy Spirit, stuff like that.

Best of Luck finding a program for you. The Holy Spirit watch over you!
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  #8  
Old Jul 13, '04, 9:39 pm
copland copland is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

I wonder exactly how it will be handled when I do get going with my conversion to the Catholic Church. I have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church, and have even preached and taught for about 7 years. But now, I have been studying the Catechism for about 7 months on my own and have absolutely no doubts that the Catholic Church is the real deal. Most of every question I have ever had about Cathlicism I have researched it on my own on good Catholic web sites or books. My desire to be Cathoic has been a well thought out journey so far.
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  #9  
Old Jul 13, '04, 10:29 pm
twf twf is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

I'm also a former Evangelical currently seeking full communion. I am not in an RCIA program at the moment, as the 3 parishes in my area (my own town, and the next one over) only offer it in the fall (starting in the Fall, that is), so I have been participating in one on one catechisis with my pastor. At this point I'm not sure if I will be going through the RCIA program or not, it has not yet been decided. It is possible that you also could ask for one on one instruction with a priest, if you would prefer that. Fortuantly, our parish is blessed with a very orthodox pastor (he's from the Syro-Malabar Eastern Rite Catholic Church in India).
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  #10  
Old Jul 14, '04, 5:24 am
CatholicNerd CatholicNerd is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by copland
I wonder exactly how it will be handled when I do get going with my conversion to the Catholic Church. I have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church, and have even preached and taught for about 7 years. But now, I have been studying the Catechism for about 7 months on my own and have absolutely no doubts that the Catholic Church is the real deal. Most of every question I have ever had about Cathlicism I have researched it on my own on good Catholic web sites or books. My desire to be Catholic has been a well thought out journey so far.
Greetings from a fellow convert! I'd most definitely see if you can be catechized at an Eastern parish if no orthodox Latin parish is nearby. The catechists at the Cathedral twisted the Latin code of canon law to try to convince me that only the Orthodox could enter the Church through the East. By the time I found out that things were any different, I was two weeks away from my Latin confirmation/first Eucharist. Guess I should have actually looked at the 1983 Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons for the Eastern Churches, too...

Anyway... my advice would be to bypass the parish office or the RCIA coordinator at whatever parish you choose and go straight to the priest. That's what I did at Gonzaga (I should clarify. I left the RCIA program at the Cathedral after my catechist said 'Well the Church may not be baptizing infants for too much longer...') and it paid off. Because I had come from the Lutheran Church and was familiar with Catholic liturgics and because I had done so much studying on my own, the priest felt that I only needed to attend the last two months of classes and I would be received into the Church without any reservation.

Since you are baptized, you will be referred to as a Candidate for reception into the Church and not a Catechumen, as the unbaptized are called. Your course of study and integration into parish life will be a little bit different than theirs. So yeah... see if you can have a meeting with both an Eastern and Latin priest. Tell them what you know, answer their questions, and they should be able to make a fair assessment of where you're at spiritually. You will be in my prayers!
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  #11  
Old Jul 14, '04, 12:01 pm
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Quote:
Originally Posted by copland
I wonder exactly how it will be handled when I do get going with my conversion to the Catholic Church. I have been baptized in a Southern Baptist Church.
One part of your question is easy. You will not be rebaptized. They will ask you to phone your church and have the baptism records faxed over (or whatever level of technology). Oh, you will likely be asked to go to confession before receiving your other sacraments.

Given your extensive background, it may well be that you would be asked to speak with the priest in some one on one interviews and you would never attend any classes except perhaps those about how to go to confession for the first time or how to pray the rosary or some such topics as would seem appropriate for you. In my parish, you would still go to the Rite of Election and you would also go to the weekend retreat that all the candidates go to (it is a spiritual retreat). Unless you would be the very unusual case of a person being confirmed at some time other than Easter Vigil.

Part of their concern is to help you mesh or integrate into your new parish. So they want you to meet the other RCIA people as they will be part of your new community. Also, that is why they have people like me go to the meetings, so you get to know some of the people you will be going to mass with

Perhaps what might end up being a trial for you is that they might well ask you to wait to be confirmed until Easter Vigil, even though you might like to be sooner.

There is no actual requirement to go to RCIA classes to join the Church. We regularly have people in my parish who do not. But parishes still try to accomodate to that mold if possible.
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  #12  
Old Jul 14, '04, 12:37 pm
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

"There is no actual requirement to go to RCIA classes to join the Church. We regularly have people in my parish who do not. But parishes still try to accomodate to that mold if possible."

This would be incorrect for a Catechumen. The US Bishops have stated that the RCIA is to be implemented in every diocese and parish and that it is to be the norm. Exceptions are only allowed in very grave and specific circumstances. IT"S NOT AN OPTION!
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  #13  
Old Jul 14, '04, 1:14 pm
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Default Thanks for being more specific

Copland (original questioner) is already baptized, so copland would not be categorized as a catechumen. I was thinking more of candidates for confirmation when I wrote the sentence. Our parish has a couple of these each year that do not go to the classes, but do go to the retreat and such. However even most of the candidates do go to the classes. Sorry for my lack of clarity.
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Old Jul 14, '04, 1:30 pm
copland copland is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Folks! Thank you all so much for all your help! I can tell that some of you all have been praying for me. I have been getting some great assisitance from a local parish. I have had some phone calls from one parish and have had some of the sweetest and helpful people talk to me and hear me out, and give advice.


The big thing now is my wife. Please pray that she sees the light of the Catholic Church. I would join the Catholic Church right this second, or yesterday if it was totally based on how I feel. Just pray that God has His will be done!

Thanks so much for all your concerns, help, and prayers!!
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Old Jul 14, '04, 2:23 pm
Br. Rich SFO Br. Rich SFO is offline
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Default Re: RCIA classes. What to expect?

Your right. RCIA is intended for the Catechumenate and I always switch into Catechumenate mode when talking about the RCIA. A Candidate really does not belong in the RCIA process unless they were Baptized as a child and never catechized and know very little about the Christian Faith. Most really belong in a shorter "RCIA like" process, more specifically an adult Confirmation preparation.
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