What is RCIA?
RCIA, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, is a Rite of the Catholic Church whereby non-Catholics can be initiated in the Catholic religion.
What is the purpose of RCIA?
It is to share the traditions of the Catholic Faith with Non-Christians who have expressed a desire to become Catholics or for baptized Christians who wish to be accepted into full communion with the Church. This is a conversion. It is more than a change of clothing or a change of venue. It is more than learning, but a total change in attitude, values, priorities, and behavior. It is a journey of faith. In addition, there is a need for the prospects to have an understanding of the traditions of the Church, the ceremonies, beliefs, and a clear understanding of the place of Revelation (Scripture) in the religion.
Who are the participants in RCIA?
Catechumens :: Those who have not yet been baptized in a Christian religion and who have expressed a desire to join the Catholic Church.
Candidates :: Non-Catholics who have been baptized in a Christian religion and who wish to join the Church and Catholics who have been baptized but have not received any other sacrament and who wish to be accepted in full communion with the Church.
The Catholic Community :: In the past, adults who wanted to join the Catholic Church went through six weeks of instructions and were batized into the church in private. Since 1972 the approach to adult Baptism has changed radically. RCIA makes four essential changes in the conversion procedure.
- The three Sacraments of Innitiation (Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation) are celebrated at the same time in front of the parish community.
- RCIA stresses living the Church, not just knowledge of the Church. This involves living the faith within the Church community as well as instruction in the Faith.
- RCIA makes the welcoming of new Christians a public community event.
- Most of the ceremonies connected with RCIA take place during Mass, so the entire community is present and supportive.
Sponsors :: Represent the Church to the catechumens and candidates.
As personal representatives of the Church, they are expected to make the candidates and catechumens feel at home with Catholics and connected to the community by introducing them to parishoners, activities of the parish and ministries they are involved with to help them catch the spirit of the Church.
Sponsors are witnesses for the catechumens and candidates and ultimately will be asked to witness to their worthiness. For catechumens to sponsor will be asked by the Bishop, "As God is your witness, do you consider these catechumens worthy to be admitted to the sacraments of Christian initiation?" The catechumen is expected to reflect a conversion, a sufficient knowledge of Christian teaching and a sense of faith and charity to be considered worthy.
For those who have already been baptized and are candidates for Confirmation and Eucharist, the nature of their conversion and formation may be different from catechumens. Nevertheless, the sponsor is asked "Do you consider this candidate ready to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist?"
Sponsors are companions and guides and will walk with the candidates and catechumens through the formation period with the support of the RCIA catechumenate team. They should be understanding of doubt, challenging when enthusiasm wanes, a mentor, friend, and confidant. Sponsors must remember that it is the way of the Lord that is the destination. The sponsor is not a teacher but will answer questions that he/shee can and refer thost that he/she cannot to others.
The following are ways in which the sponsors can fulfill their support role and commitment.
- Pray for the candidates, catechumens, sponsors, and pastoral team memebers. and commitment.
- Attend classes as often as possible, preferably every week.
- Call before class to encourage attendance.
- Invite them to join you for the celebration of Mass, parish activities, to dinner, for coffee.
- Introduce them to parishoners and friends.
- Offer to help with questions or doubts.
- Trust the Lord, be yourself, stay interested.
The RCIA program begins in early in September each year but inquiries about starting can be made at any time. Classes will be at Our Lady of the Rosary. If you are interested in enrolling or in being a sponsor or if you know someone you would like for us to contact, please call: Deacon Mike Servatius, 331-3686 Steve Peterson, 338-1246 or you may send an email for more information.