MY RCIA Experience

Noob Catholic here. After reading several threads that talk about the RCIA experience, I realize that my experience wasn’t actually that good. What I mean is, we weren’t really taught the specifics of the Catholic faith.

I realized after I was baptized, and started reading more about the faith, there is much they should have covered in RCIA. The RCIA teachers were great, fine people.

It would seem they should’ve covered the Catholic view on contraception, homosexuality, abortion, specifics on making good confession, specifics on what the Mass is and what’s going on, Mary, liturgy of the hours, novenas, the Bible, etc.

It made me realize by not teaching at least what’s required of Catholics, they are having people be baptized and basically just letting them be whatever kind of Catholic they want to be. They are creating cafeteria Catholics.

Want an example? They never actually told us Mass and holy day Masses were required. Not that I wanted to skip any Mass but that seems an important thing to make sure we understood.

What was your RCIA experience?

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My opinion of my parish’s RCIA program is that they were more interested in not scaring anyone off than they were in giving a solid instruction of the Catholic faith.

For instance, no one inquired as to my marital status until I asked to have my marriage blessed by the Church shortly after I was confirmed.

Really, the best thing I did for myself as an inquiring Catholic was to attend daily mass. It seemed to speak to exactly what I was going through and had an uncanny way of answering all my questions.

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Yeah…it is definitely a “milk” before “meat” set up…and that is ok…

Those that are really moved and serious will eventually move on to reading the catechism.

I find it dynamic and enlightening…others seem to think it reads like a technical manual.

In the end it is all part of a graceful initiation…we learn, we grow, we teach, we go…

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My RCIA experience was a little different because it was split between two parishes, one in our home parish in PA, and one in our winter home in Florida.
I started RCIA primarily to learn more about my wife’s Catholic faith while I was getting a previous marriage annulled.
I realized with one hour per week I wasn’t going to get as much information as I wanted, so I did read a number of books and watched RCIA videos on YouTube. I did have the advantage of being retired, giving me time to do this extra learning. The instructors were good, but couldn’t cover everything. I had learned enough to realize the truth of the Catholic Church compared to any Protestant churches. So by Christmas we had our marriage blessed after my annulment was finalized. I also decided to convert, which was not originally in my plan. I continued in RCIA and entered the Church on the Easter Vigil.
Even with my extra studying, there has been and still is a lot to learn. It’s a continuing journey for the rest of my time on Earth.
We did learn about the Mass, the sacraments and about Mary and the saints. We didn’t get into everything, especially some of the more controversial topics, but if questions were asked we were given answers or references.

I teach a middle school & high school RCIC/RCIA class. It is impossible to cover everything - especially in six to nine months. This is the first year that we are requiring the children to attend two years of classes. Still, we cannot cover everything.

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Those particular things seem kind of critical, to be honest.

It was AWESOME. Also, it was so beautiful that after my conversion my family just decided to join in.

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Indeed. I coordinate RCIA at my parish and it is very difficult to cover everything I would like to cover to the depth I would like to cover it. And that’s just the content to say nothing of the personal connections. Ultimately, the goal is for people to encounter Christ and have their lives changed, not just inculcate them with information, so time needs to be spent on that as well.

It’s tough to balance it all, especially when you have in the same class someone who taught Sunday school for decades in their Lutheran church, and someone who grew up with no religion whatsoever, but they started dating a Catholic and so decided to come to RCIA. With the former, you can sort of gloss over the Trinity and some other pieces. With the latter, you cannot. But then the former might have many sorts of higher level questions that the latter is not concerned with at all. People are coming from all different starting points.

In my parish, we also have a team of presenters who aren’t always there every week. So I always have to keep in mind what one particular presenter missed (because they assumed it had been covered by someone else) so that I can make sure we circle back to it.

That’s why I repeatedly emphasize that there is always more to learn and deeper to go in our faith. I know that there is always something that gets inadvertently overlooked even without my realizing it. I just pray that God supplies where I fall short.

I had read my way into the Church, was already baptized but decided to sit in on the RCIA prep classes just to meet people.

It was a good way to become part of the community.

Now, years later, I have been involved with excellent RCIA preparation programs, one used the ACM curriculum, the other uses Symbolon. Both are great programs.

My advice, join the team and suggest these excellent resources!

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Years ago, having been a sponsor of a friend in one of these “milk before meat” RCIA programs, I must respectfully disagree. I went to all of the weekly classes. Very little, specifics of the Catholic faith were ever taught. There were a couple of exceptions. A couple of weeks before the Easter vigil, the pastor came in and discussed confession and the Eucharist and did an outstanding job. We had already covered it in class and the message about confession was pretty much “you only need to go if you have committed a mortal sin, and its unlikely any of you ever will do that”.

No one would have been really moved to go study the faith further, as there was no stress on the need for that. There was no presenting the beauty of the faith. Hence half those who are received into the Church every Easter vigil are not attending mass every week within a few months.

RCIA cannot teach anyone everything about the faith, but it certainly should teach the basics and why they all make so much sense and are so important.

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I will add that the RCIA manual of the Church specifies the faith should be taught “in its entirety” to catechumens.

With 2,000 years of teaching, that is a pretty big task! I doubt I will scratch all of Church Teaching in my lifetime.

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I agree, the standard sets a high bar to cross, and I have stated in an RCIA class the faith cannot be taught in its entirety. But when the Church sets a high bar for us, we should at least try, should we not? Many RCIA programs have likely improved since I was involved. But the description of the OP and my experience is both: they did not even try to teach the fundamentals of the faith.

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That is why I am grateful for excellent resources. For RCIA alone, a FORMED subscription is worth it to a parish.

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Like that faith is a gift from God?

Different people have different ideas of what faith is. You may not have gotten what you expect, or what you think is important. The only way to do something about that is to do something about it. Get involved so others can learn what you have learned.

It’s impossible to cover everything the church teaches in 9 months (or less). It can take years for cradle catholics to learn everything, it’s an ongoing process.

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Perhaps more important is to “water ski” over the basics, then to teach where to go to find the deep dives. Exploring the Vatican Website for instance or where one can go to read the USCCA for free.

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The Church does not use the word “everything the Church teaches”, it uses the words “in it’s entirety”. Seems rather synonymous, but I suspect the difference is significant.

I went with my husband as much as I could because I was his sponsor and was a revert after decades. It was a class of 22 people with 5 leaders. They gave out flyers weekly. Also gave a Bible and a book "Handbook for Today’s Catholic. Had 4 sections: Beliefs, Practices, Prayers, and Living the Faith In the Spirit of Vatican 2. I had to laugh it has lots of prayers but my husband noticed immediately noticed St Michael missing .I’ve told you all before I had him saying Rosary and more prayers every bedtime. Foreword was by Cardinal George and it had Imprimatur. I am a senior so I had instruction from Sisters each week and was taught way different than it seems they do now. Our leader made sure though that we understood the Eucharist so that was a blessing. I thought it was size of class but now reading you guys I see its amount of time and other factors. I warned my husband that he wouldn’t see many of the other folks after class is done . I could just feel it.

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That is how it was in my friend’s class. One could just tell they were not going to stick around. Especially when boredom set in after 3 or 4 months. At the beginning of the year, I remember the leader jokingly say we might get tired of our much we would hear about community, but that is what it was all about. Well, one can only sit through so many weekly talks where the main topic is community, having a sense of community, being part of a community, we are a communal people, etc, etc., etc. All true, but boredom set in and when it did, the sense of community went out the window.

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