Teaching an RCIA class

Well, it looks as though I will be teaching the RCIA class this year along with two other ladies at my parish. This will be my first time teaching any class. I am a bit nervous.

I would gladly accept advice, tips, and recommendations for resources from those of you who have done this.

Thanks and wish me luck!

As soon as is humanly possible, find out who has been married more than once so that you can determine if there needs to be annulment procedures so you can get them resolved as quickly as possible.

Don’t be esoteric. Meaning don’t hide or hum-haw through the more controversial teachings of the Church, but lay them out plainly. The candidates will appreciate your straight-forwardness.

First let me say thank you for being willing to answer such an important call to service. When I went through RCIA many years ago, it was an awesome experience. I have been truly grateful for the teachers, volunteers and sponsors.
If I can give you any advice, it would probably be to be sure to cultivate a good group of sponsors. I don’t know if the sponsors for your class have already been assigned but it is my experience that sponsors are a vital part of the program. Otherwise, just pray and prepare. I pray that God blesses you and all who are involved in your RCIA program.

There is an RCIA Catechist book that is just amazing. I’ll have to get more info when I get home, but it’s a spiralbound book that gives suggestions and prayers and discussion questions for teaching a great many topics. The book itself is only like $35.00, but to buy the whole package including extra resources and such for directors is like $400.

I agree with everything said so far. When I went through RCIA we had a manual (and by manual I mean a 3 inch, 3-ring binder) called Come and See, when I get home I’ll check out who it’s by. But anyway, it uses Catholic updates and cooresponding scripture readings in a week by week format. I have no idea how much it would cost, but it was an absolutely wonderful tool!!

My suggestion

  1. Make an agenda

  2. Prepare 30 minutes of teaching on the subject
    a) What the subject is
    b) Catholic teaching NewAdvent.org / Catechism
    c) General common sense interpretations of the subject
    d) An exercise (with your sponsor discuss examples, or applicability to your life, etc,)

  3. Group subject discussion

  4. Group Q&A any Catholic issues

If your private messaging works, I’ll attempt to send over an example agenda and an enrollment form

Be yourself … no one wants to listen to a fake. Be knowlegable and make sure you ask the Holy Spirit to guide you each week … that is probably the most important.

Good luck!

My goodness. I hope your planning has already begun since our parish held orientation last Sunday for RCIA with introductions to the ministry team and a couple of witnesses from past converts. I’m a convert who came through RCIA 2000-2001. I’ve been a sponsor every year because I love sharing the faith journey with someone else.

If you have an address at your parish that you feel comfortable sharing with me via private message, then I would be happy to copy all of the lesson handouts from last year that I have and send them out lickety split! I can address it to “attention RCIA”. We have a team of experienced catechists who have it down to a science after working together for many years. They have no problem with handouts being shared among other parishes or individuals. Their handouts have great references to CCC and scripture throughout plus you could see a sample schedule for the entire year to help you plan.

It is normal to be nervous! Don’t worry. They will assume competence on your part unless you do something to dispel the notion. General suggestions for a first class (of any sort of subject)

be extensively prepared
begin on time
learn names
utilize the entire time period
begin as you mean to go on
teach real information that day
pray an hour before the Blessed Sacrament to prepare

decide how you want to handle any snacks being served (they can be a distraction to getting stuff done).

Our Parish is using


I’ve had a hands on view of the package, and would reccomend it highly!

Congratulations on taking on this important role.:thumbsup:

Be knowledgeable. Be prepared and know your subject matter. If asked a question that you don’t have an answer to, don’t answer it. Tell the questioner you will find out and get back to them. Then go and find the answer. Too many people get easily embarrased and think they have to have all the answers to be effective.

Name tags, have everyone wear them.

I also reccomend setting up a small altar in the classroom. It immediately lets the students know that this is not just another class to be endured but something special. As the year wears on and the students become more knowledgeable and comfortable in the faith, let them set up the altar weekly. It deepens their appreciation for the faith and it really works.

Have an opening and a closing prayer which after a few classes the students can do.

As scuba divers say, plan your dive then dive your plan. Preparation is all important so, plan your lessons and then teach your plan. It makes teaching a lot easier and more efficient. Trust me on this.

Schedule a break in the class, that also makes it easier, not so much for your students, but for you. You’ll be wore out if you do this thing right.

Depending on the age of your students and the views of the Parish, you might incorporate some spiritual exercises into the classes such as those by Saint Ignatious Loyola. They are powerful teaching and self examination tools which are often used on retreats .

Plan a little more than you actually need for the class. It is better to have to finish up in another class than to be finsihed, have no questions pending and have an hour to go on the schedule. It does happen believe me.

Best of luck as you are about to undertake an vitally important role. Be assured of my prayers and those of many others as you underatke this job.

Get yourself a copy of Catholicism for Dummies by Fathers Trigilio and Brighenti. It (and they) are absolutely orthodox, and the book has the Imprimateur and Nihil Obstat which guarantees us that there is nothing there that would contradict the Faith in any way. My dh & I do the catechesis section of RCIA, and along with the Bible, (RSV-CE) and the Catechism, we use this to supplement our series, which is kind of “fluffy”. Our candidates absolutely love it.


Hi Courtney,

I too will be participating as an RCIA instructor. I was told that determining who belongs is not for us to decide. We have a preist who helps out and they said these issues should be deferred to him.

I just hope and pray to have an impact on someone.

Good Luck!!



Great!! :thumbsup:

Ligouri Publications puts out a wonderful RCIA pamphlet series - there are probably more pamphlets in the series than you would use in a short-year RCIA program, but it has every imaginable Catechism topic, it’s really well organized and very faithful to the Magesterium, and the pamphlets are perfect for use as a discussion exercise in class, or to take home as homework after a lecture or presentation.

the lay catechist who is teaching the class is not the proper person to determine the status of each candidate or look into their marriage situation. That should be done by the pastor or deacon he delegates in the initial and follow-up interviews. The catechist should receive from the pastor the syllabus and materials to be used in teaching, and follow that plan as much as possible. The catechist should be part of an RCIA team, headed by the pastor, who help with finding and preparing sponsors, scheduling and carrying out the various rites that punctuate the process, and determining who in the class celebrates which rites in which form. The pastor is also the one who determines, before Lent and the Rite of Election, who will be entering the Church at Easter, as well as the timing of Confirmation for the baptized persons in the class.

We used this last year and it will probably be used this year. I thought it sucked.

We did not use the entire binder; we have a rather condensed RCIA it seems. Anyway, when ever my team was up to lead the class I found my own materials and focused on the Catechism.

Why? Check out this Update on Mary. I wish it would be worth it to fisk this whole article but here are some highlights.

Now how many children were in that household? Well, her firstborn son, Jesus, obviously lived there, but we also read in Mark’s Gospel that the mother and the brothers and the sisters lived together in Nazareth. And these brothers are named in Chapter Six: James, Joses, Judas and Simon. His sisters Mark leaves unnamed, as typically happened with groups of women in the New Testament.

The apocryphal gospels explain that these are Joseph’s children by previous marriage. But however many were in the household, we would know that in her setting,

It (not so) subtley calls into question the perpetual virginity of Mary.

Business as usual, including patriarchal marriages, is superseded. And God stands with the young woman pregnant outside of wedlock, in danger of her own life. God stands with her to begin fulfilling the divine promise.

Um…she was not pregnant out of wedlock. She was betrothed. The author of the piece (of ****), Elizabeth Johnson, C.S.J. spends a lot of filler in this Update chiding us to remember

She is a first-century Jewish woman; she is not a 21st-century American. And that difference must be respected.

it is reasonable to assume that Mary, with her husband, Joseph, practiced this Jewish religion in their home, following Torah, observing Sabbath and the festivals, reciting prayers, lighting candles and going to synagogue

So it does no honor to her memory to bleach her of her Jewishness. We’ve done this ethnically by turning her swarthy Jewish complexion into fair skin and blonde hair and blue eyes.

and yet she seems ignorant of Jewish customs regarding marriage.

Don’t get me started on the the Update on the Holy Spirit.

The organizers of this product really didn’t take care not to include questionable material. And since we kind of did our own thing I don’t really know how effective the whole programs approach would be. My observation was that there was a lot of feel good fluff.

I have no idea if this would work better with well-catechized facilitators but I was dealing with comments like “I learned not to pray for things more than once. Once is enough” and “I personally don’t have a problem with women priests” said to unsuspecting candidates.

It has been awhile since I have had a chance to reply:

To all that have offered advice and suggestions - I thank you!

We had our first meeting and us teachers have also had quite a few prep meetings amongst ourselves.

It went so well with our group. I know now there is no need to be nervous, I am very comfortable with the group and the materials we are using.

We are using Invitation- Catholic Learning Guide by Rev. Alfred McBride, O.Praem. as our primary book for the students individual use. For our teaching guide we are using Making Disciples RCIA Catechesis by Sister M. Jane Carew This book was actually written and published for our Diocese. I also have Catholicism for Dummies and Essentials of the Faith by McBride for additional information. And of course, the Bible and Catechism cannot be left out.

Our group consists of 10 adults and 1 teen, not including their sponsors. We have a mixed ratio of religious backgrounds and opinions. So it has been very interesting thus far - with lots of great attitudes and sincerity.

Ahh - I am glad I took this project on! My 4.5 mos old is the main boss of the meetings though . . . she likes to throw her two cents in whenever she can! She already has these people wrapped around her pudgy little fingers. :stuck_out_tongue:

I also thank all those who are offering advice.

I, too, will be teaching RCIA this year, and for my parish, it does not start until the end of September.

I will be meeting with the person in charge of RCIA tomorrow to go over the curriculum. At the point, here is all I know:

  • the program is “liturgically based”. (what does THAT mean?)
  • the format involves a lecture by someone…catechist or priest), followed by small groups. Each teacher leads a small group.
  • some people prefer to teach the sections on scripture, some are more comfortable with the sections on the catechesim.

Tomorrow I’ll know more, and I’m very excited! I’m nervous, too, but I know my resources, I know I have a good grasp of the faith, and I have no problem admitting when I don’t know something. I really just hope I don’t make a complete fool of myself when lecturing. I am a good public speaker…one of my gifts…as long as I’m prepared and know what I’m talking about. But that’s not to say that I haven’t messed up in the past! (a high school speech competition, sub-regions, comes to mind…)

Please keep the advice coming, or maybe some anecdotes from those of you who have begun teaching? What happened on the first day? How were the students? What kinds of questions did they have, what were their biggest concerns? (I’m guessing stuff we all take for granted…?)

This is a good thing. It means that your RCIA candidates will be hearing the same Scriptures as the rest of the congregation that week, and that your Catechism lesson will be related to the Catechisis that will be given during the homily.

When your candidates and catechumens start going to Mass, they’ll be “caught up” with the rest of the congregation, and what they hear at Mass will build on what they have already been hearing in RCIA. :slight_smile:

Please keep the advice coming, or maybe some anecdotes from those of you who have begun teaching? What happened on the first day? How were the students? What kinds of questions did they have, what were their biggest concerns? (I’m guessing stuff we all take for granted…?)

The most frequent questions we get at ours (which is year round) are questions about Confession and about the Bible. They also want to know about the hierarchy of the Church - it comes as a surprise to them to find out how “flat” it is, compared to what they were expecting.

I hope you will start in the beginning like Genesis and speak about the Old Testament the time of the Jewish religion, and sacrifices. Then the time periods of Jesus and the birth of Christianity, the Great Schism, the Protestant Reformation. Just a quick overview /timeline not too deep. So many catechumens sit lost all year afraid to ask then when they do the answers can often be horrible. In just 2 hours of planned teaching you can straighten out so much and unit the class.

Beside the earlier mention issues - many candidates are embarrassed about trying to learn the Mass. So have a handout ready - a good one listed on this forum from before the crash was available at soladeiverbum.com/handouts.shtml

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