RCIA: Candidates & Catchumens

I’m taking an informal survey of **present RCIA participants and RCIA graduates **regarding the ancient practice of separating Candidates and Cathechumen for RCIA instruction.

As a 2006 Easter Vigil RCIA graduate, I am uncategorically opposed to making the distinction between the baptized and unbaptized until the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. Both should receive the same instruction in the classroom and should be dismissed from Mass after the Liturgy of the Word. Because a person is not baptized doesn’t mean that they are anymore ignorant or Christianity than the baptized.

I’m really not interested in the perspective of the craddle Catholics and those who want to read quote church documents. Sorry, but I’ve been there and done that. I want the feedback from present and former RCIAers

What do you think about the RCIAers being separated as to baptismal status?

As an RCIA Candidate being treated like a catechuman, I think it is an excellent idea for the two catagories to be seperate. This is, by the way, not just my opinion. See the link in my signature?

That leads to the document with extensive quotes from the US Council Of Bishops that, YES, the path for baptized Christians should be quite different from the catechumans, and they are NOT supposed to part of the Easter Vigil.

In theory, they should be examined to find out what, if anything, is lacking before they take the Profession Of faith with full knowledge. NOBODY has asked me anything.

OK, it would take some time to interview the Candidates and find out how far along they are and what remains to be taught. Someone would actually be required to use their brains instead of chanting “this is the way we have always done it”.

RESULT: I haven’t learned squat from the weekly RCIA classes, and doubt if I ever will.

The Good News is catechismclass.com which features a Lectionary-driven, catechism-based RCIA/Adult Education class with meat and potatoes, not pablum.

The Priest running that program stated that after our daily classes, we would know more about the scripture reading for that day (and the previous Sunday) then 80% of the adults in the Church. Only 80%?

If the purpose of RCIA classes is to teach you what you need to know to be a good Catholic, the current RCIA setup is broken. Badly broken. In the Church I attend, a disaster.

And people wonder why the Church faces declining numbers in converts?

I am a candidate in RCIA. We went through “Catholic” specific issues early on in September when we started. Then RCIA began to become a bible study (which is not in itself bad) but we discussed the readings after early dismissal and then again during our regular Wednesday meetings. I would liked to have more info on what it means to be a Catholic. I agree it would be difficult for the instructors to know each person’s level of Christain training/understanding. Both cathecumens and candidates participate in all classes together and it hasn’t been a problem as far as I’m concerned. But throughout this process, there was a definate lack of what we should expect during various rites. At tonight’s meeting I asked the instructors to go over what we will be required to do during Easter Vigil and was told they didn’t want to give us the details as they wanted us to experience the Vigil first hand without preconceived notions. (However, they are having a rehersal with sponsors and godparents before the Vigil. My feeling is that my knowing what to expect would enhance my experience as I wouldn’t have to be thinking about looking at my sponsor for cues, etc.

I had this problem, too, with some of our earlier rites (I’m a convert, being confirmed at Easter Vigil this Saturday). What helped for me is that I called the director of our RCIA program privately and let her know I suffer from anxiety issues, and that while I appreciate what they were trying to have us experience, for me it would not be a good idea. She was very understanding and has taken the time since then to let me know ahead of time IN DETAIL what to expect. That way, the rest of our class could have the emotional “jolt” of the experience, while I could participate but not have to be distracted.

Just be frank and honest and also mention this at a time when the instructor isn’t too busy.

Hope this helps.

I am a Catachumen (well, Elect now) and I will be baptized and confirmed at Easter vigil.

I differ in the opinions of those that have already responded: as an institution that is accepting new members, I would want to ensure that the newly inducted have a basic, working knowledge of what they are becoming a part of. I can understand what the Candidates above have said, but they (Candidates in general) are “novice” Catholics along with the Catachumens. There’s no feasible way (in my opinion) to determine one’s personal understanding of Catholicism: not trying to sound conceited, but I seem to know as much (if not more) than the sponsors in my RCIA class. So, the Church has to ensure that its new members are knowledgeable about Catholicism, and the only way to do this is to have them go through RCIA with the Catachumens.

Having said that, I do believe that we Catachumens are treated far better than our Candidate brothers and sisters. I feel kind of guilty; Catachumens seem to be the star of the show at every Rite and at the Easter vigil, and Candidates are just there for the ride. They should be given the star treatment too. For example, instructions will always be given to the Catachumens/Elect, and then they say “oh, you Candidates will just do such and such.” If I were a Candidate, I would be really turned off by this!

I am a Cadidate that has been exempted from some of the time required for reversion, but not the rituals. In my parish I started in December with the RCIA program. I can say that on a 1 to 10 scale of learning about the Catholic church my experience would be a 3. Not totally useless, but a general waste of time. I attended Baptist school through 8th grade, and then a Methodist church until 2003. Since that time I have been going to Mass every week. I have studied Catholic and Orthodox (particularly Coptic Orthodoxy) since I was in 11th grade. I have studied the Catholic Church for on average one hour a night since 2007. What I am getting at is that I am informed as to my decision to revert.

When I first met with the RCIA director I was asked some personal questions and told that the Catholic Church was not like the Protestant Churches…it is a church of “smells and bells” (which I found ironic as I have only [at this parish] smelled incense during the Easter Vigil - and I have never heard bells). I was not asked any questions to ascertain my understanding of the faith - not one in spite of the fact that I told her several times that I had attended Mass for 5 years and done plenty of personal study.

I have been lumped improperly and contrary to the USCOCB directive.

Steve

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damooster

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I differ in the opinions of those that have already responded: as an institution that is accepting new members, I would want to ensure that the newly inducted have a basic, working knowledge of what they are becoming a part of.

Absolutely, the faithful that are coming into the church need to know what the Church teaches and believes. However, your statement assumes the RCIA fully catechizes the person, which a quick read of these boards shows that all too often that is not the case.

I can understand what the Candidates above have said, but they (Candidates in general) are “novice” Catholics along with the Catachumens.

They may be novice Catholics, but if they are not novice Christians then it is inappropriate to require the full RCIA “course”.

There’s no feasible way (in my opinion) to determine one’s personal understanding of Catholicism:

Before VII they used to…the priest (or now the RCIA director could as well) would discuss the Faith with the Candidate to ensure they knew about the faith and fully believed. A good director can and should still do this, but all too often for ease of work they brush over this step and just say “come to class on Thursday evenings and Sunday at the XX:XX Mass”.

not trying to sound conceited, but I seem to know as much (if not more) than the sponsors in my RCIA class. So, the Church has to ensure that its new members are knowledgeable about Catholicism, and the only way to do this is to have them go through RCIA with the Catachumens.

You do not sound conceited at all! :slight_smile: Both Candidates and Catechumens should do copious amounts of personal study so they are well informed, and it sounds as if you have…this is all too important when the program is lacking in essential teachings. However, Catechumens must go through the program as they all are received into the church at the Vigil. Candidates are supposed (but it seems they usually are not) to be received at a regular Sunday Mass.

I understand why people might think it is a good program as a catch all for people coming into the Church, but honestly it needs to be based more on the readiness of the Candidate since they have already had the Sacrament of Baptism. RCIA can be a fine program for those that are Baptized but uninformed, but if you have the knowledge of what the Church believes then it is unnecessary - and contrary to what the Bishops have directed for the well informed Baptized Christian.

Steve

Well, you are right about RCIA (there is definitely room for improvement). Even though I’ll be Confirmed tomorrow, I planned on going to the RCIA sessions at a different parish in the fall. My home parish apparently has a really good program, so I want to check it out and learn something in the process.

Before VII they used to…the priest (or now the RCIA director could as well) would discuss the Faith with the Candidate to ensure they knew about the faith and fully believed. A good director can and should still do this, but all too often for ease of work they brush over this step and just say “come to class on Thursday evenings and Sunday at the XX:XX Mass”.

I understand what you’re saying here. Looking at the time requirement, I can see how someone would get frustrated for having to attend classes that aren’t geared for them.

You do not sound conceited at all! :slight_smile: Both Candidates and Catechumens should do copious amounts of personal study so they are well informed, and it sounds as if you have…this is all too important when the program is lacking in essential teachings. However, Catechumens must go through the program as they all are received into the church at the Vigil. Candidates are supposed (but it seems they usually are not) to be received at a regular Sunday Mass.

I understand why people might think it is a good program as a catch all for people coming into the Church, but honestly it needs to be based more on the readiness of the Candidate since they have already had the Sacrament of Baptism. RCIA can be a fine program for those that are Baptized but uninformed, but if you have the knowledge of what the Church believes then it is unnecessary - and contrary to what the Bishops have directed for the well informed Baptized Christian.

Now that you mention it, shouldn’t we all be tested? Like, one last evaluation to determine our readiness? It seems like it’s just an “endurance” test, and not a “ready” test like it should be.

Actually, start the testing after I’m Confirmed. I’ve ruffled some feathers and caused some waves, so I don’t want to give any of them any ammo to use against me. :thumbsup:

Thanks Steve.

Happy Easter and have a great day tomorrow!!!:smiley:

Steve

Our RCIA process was similar to what many people have already stated here; catechumens and candidates took classes together, and all will be experiencing the sacraments at the Easter Vigil. I feel that the more recent classes about Catholic teachings have been ok, but the earlier classes that were about the Bible, Heaven, Hell etc were not as necessary for me, seeing as how I am a baptized Christian and have always attended church (at some times less regularly than others, but it has always been a part of my life). I have also found that there is still so much to learn about the faith; I almost wish the process were longer, so that some issues could be covered more in depth.

I’m a convert (Easter Vigil 2001) and a sponsor for many years with a catechumen, a Catholic candidate (only had baptism), and multiple non-Catholic candidates. All of our people get their sacraments together on Easter Vigil absent some special circumstance. It helps them to build community ties when they all participate in RCIA for the 9 months or so. We don’t have as much drop off from our converts as most parishes.

I’ve been through the RCIA classes now 6 or 7 times. I am blessed to be at a parish that has an excellent program. It begins in August with an overview of basic beliefs shared by all Christians and it builds upon the “easier” teachings so that when we get to things like respecting life from natural conception to natural death in the spring, people have good building blocks in place from which to understand the reasoning behind the Church’s positions on abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc.

We have classes on Sunday morning, but we do not use the dismissal during mass model. Our catechumens and candidates are welcome to be at mass before or after class since we have 3 on Sunday mornings. Many of them are married to a Catholic and possibly have children, so they attend mass as a family. Clearly they don’t receive Communion, but our program does not prevent them from even glimpsing the Eucharist. In fact, years before I came into the church I was drawn to her by sensing that something was very different about Communion at a Catholic mass versus in my Baptist church. Jesus called out to me from the Eucharist for years at every chance he got, weddings, etc.

We have a team of people teaching and others on the RCIA ministry team who keep things rolling such as people who coordinate for catechumens and a couple for candidates and another couple for sponsors. There is one specific deacon who works with those who need to pursue an annulment or get a marriage convalidated. The director of RCIA taught RE at many levels over the years and when he retired he went to a Catholic U. to get a degree to aid him in teaching Catholicism. A couple of other catechists study apologetics and they also do a fantastic job of answering questions with fact and official teachings rather than personal opinion.

We have a retreat for RCIA in early February where everyone gets to experience a group rosary, some convert testimonies, additional teaching from priests, adoration and a mass. We help them to learn some Catholic music that is taken for granted by cradle Catholics. We have live music in the morning and at some breaks to introduce them to contemporary Catholic praise type music. We have small group discussions on the retreat and also during the year that help people to work through issues or questions that they might not want to discuss in front of 100 people. I reember that the retreat was when I began to feel Catholic. It is a good lead-in to Lent and the final prep for Easter.

I’m opposed to any dismissal from Mass for anyone - catechumens, candidates, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc.

Why teach someone about Jesus by taking him away from Jesus? It’s like directing someone to go north by taking them south. It makes no sense to me.

I went through RCIA in 2008 and had to ram a steel rod in my spine before attending each dismissal Mass. I went to two Sunday Masses each weekend - one dismissal, one real - just so I could be present at the Sunday Mass. The readings are wonderful, the homilies are a treasure, but without the Mass how can you know Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? How can you participate and pray along with the others? I needed to experience the Eucharistic prayers, see the host, watch the faithful receive Holy Communion. That’s Jesus with us. I also attended 2 or 3 weekday Masses as well as 2 or 3 Holy Hours. How else can someone know they want to be a Catholic? Without Mass, the service is more Protestant than Catholic.

I know I don’t have a vote, but if I did it would be to eliminate dismissals. Teach scripture after Mass. Don’t take the people who want to know Jesus away from Him.

For Poster #3 and beyond – You guys are responding in April 2009 to an OP from 2006 :slight_smile:

I started this recent spate of responses to the '06 posting - I’m new to this forum and missed the posted date. :slight_smile: However I don’t think that negates the feelings expressed by the respondents. Their responses have been helpful to me.

So be it :tiphat: And I’ll add my own 2 cents.

My class (I’m a 2009 Easter Vigil-er) didn’t separate the two. We were all in it together, and I don’t think it made a difference, really. Yeah, it did mean some of us candidates ended up going back over bare basics, but that’s a good thing, i think. Reinforces them nicely.

Also, we were never asked to leave Mass after the Liturgy of the Word. We were allowed to stay the whole way through (just not receive communion of course), and I thank the Lord for it, because it was wonderful to experience the Liturgy of the Eucharist and get a feel for what we were “working” for.

if any of you wish to volunteer to assist in our RCIA program I will be pleased to “do the Rites Right” and provide separate instruction and preparation for the catechumens and candidate, but until you do (PM me for location and times I will be happy to have you) or until somebody comes forward, I am not padre Pio and I can’t bilocate so it will be one class for the time being. Since in this diocese the current practice is to give priests the faculty to confirm baptized non-Catholics at Easter, that is how we will do it. When we get a new bishop, maybe that will change, but it is out of my hands.

Please do realize when making your critiques and suggestions, and relating your own experience, that you are speaking of one parish, in one diocese, and to enlarge that into a global statement about RCIA in general is inaccurate.

I just came to the same conclusion a few minutes ago before reading your post. I decided to start attending 2 masses for the same reasons. Thanks for your insight.

If they're going to dismiss candidates, then they should dismiss All non-Catholics. They shouldn't let you stay for the complete mass when you're not in RCIA, then change the rules once RCIA starts.

I started RCIA in August 2010. 
I'm a candidate (baptized & confirmed Episcopal)

Regarding catachumens and candidates being dismissed from mass halfway through, I don't like this practice. I want the full experience. I don't like leaving halfway through the mass because the entire mass has become important to me. If I leave halfway it will be as though I didn't really attend. First, I don't like missing the music but I'm blessed that I'm in the choir and can sing the music at rehearsal so in a way I won't miss out on the music. But the full mass is important to me more than just for the music.

The Eucharist Liturgy is one of the most moving parts of mass for me. The readings and homily are the least meaningful parts because I read the Bible on my own and by the time I hear them at mass I've already studied them in depth. The most meaningful parts of the mass are the prayers, especially the ones during the Eucharist Liturgy.

I plan to start attending the earlier mass, get the full experience, then attend the half-mass with RCIA. That works. I'd miss a few minutes of choir rehearsal but I'll get most of it. It's a great solution. Just means I'll have to get up :45 minutes earlier in order to attend 2 masses. Well I should get up early anyway. ;)

I’m in rcia class . Before im done will I have to go to confession? A friend of mine said I have to . We have not talked about it in class…

That depends, have you been baptized? If you have been baptized, then you will be prepared for and go to confession right before you receive confirmation and first communion. If you have not been baptized, then baptism washes away all sins. Hopefully sometimes after the Easter Vigil, you will be prepared for and encouraged to go to confession.

As for not having talked about it in class, it is still pretty early. You can ask whoever is in charge of your RCIA, but I imagine that closer to the actual time, you will receive more info about how exactly things work in your parish. :thumbsup:

As an educator I can tell you that our group this year needs to be seperated, not by who has been baptized or not, but by reason of knowledge of basic Christian beliefs and scripture. It’s almost painful to spend 2 hours with this group. Starting tomorrow night, we will have two groups. In the long run, I think each group will learn more. Once Lent begins the groups will merge again.:wink:

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