I’m relatively new to the forums. I was raised Southern Baptist but lost faith while living abroad (my parents are missionaries). Since starting college a few years ago, I have attended mass with increasing frequency and I really feel like the Catholic Church has the truths for which I have been searching. At the Easter mass this year, I finally understood the point of the Christian faith for the first time in my life. Since then, I have tried to read as much about the Catholic faith as possible. I really want to join the Church.
As I begin the process, I would really appreciate it if someone could explain the RCIA in its entirety. Focus on both the steps as well as their significance would be helpful.
Well, the nutshell is, in RCIA you’ll meet and study with others who either
A.) Wish to come in full communion with the Church
B.) Are already Catholic but feel their knowledge about their faith is lacking
C.) Are not sure, but want to learn more about the faith.
There’s usually a textbook and workbook. You’ll meet about once a week. Our parish has already started a pre-RCIA informational series of classes, that will continue through summer. The actual RCIA program begins in September (ish).
Most RCIA programs will give you a syllabus, as far as what particular things that group will study and when.
If you have any questions that are specific, feel free to PM me any time. I went through RCIA myself, and I don’t mind sharing my experience.
Well, I can’t say much about RCIA simply because I was blessed to be born into Catholicism, but I’ve heard such awesome things about the program, though be assured the quality of your experience is going to depend on 1) You and 2) your local parish program. I’ve heard some are out-of-this-world amazing, and I’ve heard some are more lack luster. But what I really want to tell you is welcome! It is so great to see God working in your life in leading you to the Church. It surely can be no easy thing for you, so I applaud you! Welcome home!
RCIA is a program available in most parishes to teach christainity more than catholism. As the program is usually volunteers the context and quality vary greatly. RCIA is also commonly used to “catch all” for those who have not completed all sacraments. Some parishes only have RCIA and send everybody. The most common group is pending marriages with the non-catholic party becoming catholic. Though the programs are supposed to split up kids from adults, baptised and non baptised often resources are not sufficient so everyone goes to everything. This year we are considering a rule that we will not recommend anybody who attends less than 30 events (mostly classes). The RCIA team makes recommendations to the priest who makes recommendations to the Bishop. The Bishop actually receives new members, and the priest can recommend anybody anytime.
If you have more specific questions please post them
RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. If you have not already done so, I suggest you check out the Wikipedia article. (Just Google “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”.) RCIA is the process by which Catechumens (unbaptized) and Candidates (baptized non-Catholics other than Orthodox) enter the Catholic Church. It is very similar to the process used in the first few centuries of the Christan Church.
RCIA is a series of liturgical rites interspersed with periods of study and personal prayer and reflection. Often the term RCIA is used to refer to the inquiry classes that are offered in conjunction with RCIA. But the classes are really just a small piece of what RCIA is all about. The liturgical rites and reception of the sacraments are the heart of RCIA.
RCIA is designed for non-baptized (i.e. non-Christian) adults who seek Christian initiation; thus, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. If you are already baptized, RCIA might be helpful for you as a “catechism class”, but it is not a necessity, and it is not designed for Christians. You can request instruction in the faith from a parish priest, but he is like to be too busy to do that one-on-one given the present shortage of priests.
(Sadly, you’ll also want to make sure you are instructed in the faith by someone who is really a Catholic and knows the faith and believes it. There are some priests and catechists out there who don’t fit that description.)
Although RCIA was originally intended for unbaptized adults (catechumens) in many areas it also includes the baptized (candidates) in the process. Some of the candidates, although baptized, know very little about the bible and basic Christian beliefs. Some are former ministers and are a wonderful resource in the group.
Since part of the goal of RCIA is to make the person coming into the church a part of the parish community, it is helpful to the candidates as well. They become part of a small group which includes catechumens, candidates, RCIA team members(we have 5), and sponsors. So when they attend mass they already know some of the people there. Of course, it is up to the pastor whether he wants a candidate to attend classes or not. Our candidates have given us very positive feedback.
There are 4 parts to the RCIA process: Inquiry, Catechumenate, Lent (or the period preceding full entry into the Church), and Mystagogy (usually the period following Easter when they are full members of the church and continue learning and discussing). The ‘rites’ are short ceremonies, usually in church, which mark different stages in the process and are for those who aren’t already baptized.
The Rite of welcoming is at the end of the inquiry period and is for those who have decided to become Catholic. The Scrutinies take place during Lent and invite the catechumens and everyone at that mass to consider what it means to be a Catholic Christian. the Rite of acceptance in our diocese takes place before Easter when the bishop formally accepts the Catechumens who are to be baptized at Easter. Their names are written in the record books from each church. At the same ceremony, the candidates are also presented to the bishop. I think this is called the Call to continuing conversion.
In my parish a person who wants to learn about the Catholic church but isn’t sure yet that they want to become Catholic is welcome to attend the RCIA meetings without going through the rites. We have also had some Catholics who have asked to attend to learn more about their faith.
In my parish, we have had separate RCIA sessions for older children and teens when needed.
Each parish is apparently a little different. Class length, meeting days, etc. I would look at two or three local parishes and make certain they’re even having an RCIA course. I think I looked at three or four parishes until I found one which was.
Wow! This post brought back some memories for me! Welcome mabusching. I was raised in a nominally non-denomonational Christian home. My family was intermittent churchgoers with no real focus or commitment. I first attended Mass while dating a Catholic girl in High School and it was like a light bulb lit up in my soul.
It was a few years after college (and marriage to different good Catholic girl) when I finally decided to make the proverbial leap of faith and begin my journey into the Catholic Church.
That was 20 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Discovering the richness and truth of the Catholic Faith has been one of the best parts of my life. The more I learn, the more I realize how much more I don’t know about what God has to given us.
Looking back, I will say that the RCIA program I went through was probably sub standard. Coming into the Church, I had no knowledge of basic doctrine. The program seemed to emphasize feeling good about being a Catholic instead of offering proper catechesis. I am confident the programs today are a bit more structured.
I don’t say that to denigrate my wonderful sponsors or those that put on the program, but to encourage you to take an active role of your own faith formation. Finding this forum is a fabulous step. I haven’t been here all that long, but have already grown to appreciate the great advice, knowlege, and fellowship offered here.
As I’ve read from others, and I think it’s so appropriate, let me say “Welcome Home.”
Thank you all for your advice and warm greetings. I’ve actually started a one-on-one “Catechism” class with one of the priests at the local parish. He’s given me a plan and a basic idea of what is going on. I really appreciate all of your comments. They helped a lot to get an idea of what I was doing. Thanks.
I went through the RCIA process when I joined the Catholic Churchk, coming from a Presbyterian background (with exposure to Baptists and Wesleyan Methodists). It wasn’t particularly hard, and was rather low key. As I started attending mass more regularly I started to feel that it was a bit short on details, with scant attention paid to Catholic practices such as venerating Mary, the saints, liturgy, the eucharist etc. I suppose the originators of the RCIA program didn’t want to overwhelm applicants, but at the same time there wasn’t much effort to answer genuine Protestant objections or concerns either.
And being hard of hearing, it’s taken me a long time just to learn some of the responses in the mass. When the priest leads via his microphone, it’s easy, but when it’s just the congregation mumbling away, I find it very difficult to pick up what is being said.