This parish follows diocesan particular law which implements RCIA as the Rites and US norms dictate for the Children’s Catechumenate. Children below age 7 receive infant baptism and are brought to the other sacraments at the normal age (8 or 3rd grade for first communion, 16 or 10th grade for Confirmation).
Unbaptized children age 7 and over are considered adults for the purposes of RCIA and after an initial year of basic faith formation (corresponding to the Inquiry period of RCIA begin the catechumenate with the Rite of Acceptance. In this parish sacramental preparation is year round so while the diocese specifies 3 years we interpret that to mean 3 school years, not calendar years so in lapsed time it usually takes two years if no problems arise, attendance is good, family cooperates and so forth.
They are in a class with others of their age, primary, middle grades, Jr. High and high school, English or Spanish as they and parents prefer. The last year the class consists only of those being received into Church the coming Easter. We have found it too confusing for participants, parents and catechists to combine RCIA catechumens with an ordinary first communion class. There is no automatic pass to the next period, their readiness to transition to each stage is determined by the catechist, parents, sponsors (if the are involved, most are not) and the director in consultation with the pastor.
we do not do dismissal in this parish because of logistics, after Christmas the year of reception catechumens of all ages, with parents and sponsors, participate in a Sunday RCIA class to prepare for Rite of Election and rites of Lent, and initiation. Mystagogy continues on Sunday until Pentecost. But they are expected to attend a full Mass with their families, either English or Spanish.
At the Rite of Acceptance they receive a bible, an age-appropriate edition. At Rite of Sending for Election they receive a small crucifix.
we use the Sadlier “catch up” catechism books for the first year, Our Catholic Faith for grades 4-7, One Faith One Lord for grades 7-12 (the dividing line in middles schools is loose, depends on the makeup of the class each year). The reason is these are the best bilingual resources available at this time. In the second year, high school students are in the regular confirmation program, with special preparation for baptism and first communion. Middle school students are prepared using a variety of resources. This depends mainly on the catechist, as they have their own preference.
Some like the OSV-Harcourt combined communion-reconciliation book for middle school, others like the Journey of Faith.
In this parish it does not work well for a variety of reason to combine true RCIA catechumens with regular first communion classes, although most parishes down here put all childen in grades 4 and up who need sacraments in the same class and call it RCIA, whether or not they are baptized. In years when I have not had enough catechists to separate out only a couple of catechumens we have done this, but it is not my preference. We usually have 10 to 20 elect for baptism each Easter, fewer than 5 are adults, the rest children and youth.
we try to plan schedules to accommodate families where members of different ages are also preparing for RCIA or any sacraments so the don’t have to attend several times during the week. If we have families coming in together we have a family program on Sunday all year for them. So it does not look the same each year but is adjusted to meet the needs of participants, and the available catechists.
We “advertise” the same way we do for CCD, in the bulletin, parish website, facebook and word of mouth. By far most catechumens under age 18 are members of families who are nominally and culturally Catholic, but simply never got baptized for whatever reason. This applies to at least half our adult catechumens as well.