Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

"In the Sacraments of Christian initiation we are freed from the power of darkness and joined to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection.  We receive the Spirit of filial adoption and are part of the entire people of God in the celebration of the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection." 


(RCIA General Introduction, P1)

Welcome!

We are excited that you are discerning becoming Catholic and welcome you to our "family of families".

 

The first step is to contact your local Catholic Church. To find a parish, click below.

The following information is meant to give an overview of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), which is the process the Church uses for those desiring to become Catholic.

Becoming Catholic

An Overview of the RCIA

Parishes welcome new members into the Roman Catholic Church through a process of formation, faith sharing, and rituals known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This process includes several stages marked by prayer, study, and discussion.

The RCIA is structured over a series of ceremonial steps and periods of learning, the timing of which may vary for each individual. One may take as much time as he or she needs in the initiation process before entering into full initiation in the Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. 

The RCIA process may also be adapted to meet the specific needs of children and youth in what is called RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation for Children) and RCIT (Rite of Christian Initiation for Teens).

Who is the RCIA for?

All who are open to discerning their personal experience of faith and learning more about the Catholic Church are welcome to begin the RCIA process. All that is truly required is a sincere desire to learn, to grow, and to develop one's relationship with God. The RCIA process is applied to the following:

  • Unbaptized: persons (age of discretion: 7+ years) who have never been baptized and who need a process to help them grow in awareness to God's call to conversion as well as ways to respond to that call. They are considered "catechumens."

  • Baptized in Another Christian Church: Those who were baptized into another Christian denomination and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. They are considered "candidates."

  • Baptized but uncatechized Catholic Adults: Those who were baptized Catholic as infants who are seeking to complete their initiation. These adults will be prepared to celebrate the sacraments of reconciliation, confirmation and Eucharist. They are also considered "candidates."

Stages of the RCIA

I. Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate


This first stage is called the period of inquiry. This is when an individual first expresses interest in becoming a Catholic, and begins to explore, with the help of the parish community, to discern his or her relationship with Christ and how this can be deepened by joining the Catholic Church. Once a non-baptized individual discerns to enter the RCIA process, they celebrate Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. This is a liturgical rite in which the inquirer states publicly that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The Church, through the local parish community affirms this desire to follow God's call. Once celebrating this rite, the non-baptized are referred to as catechumens. For candidates who have already been baptized and are seeking full communion in the Catholic Church, this step is called the Rite of Welcoming the Candidate.




II. Period of Catechumenate


This second stage is an extended period which normally lasts one year or longer. This is a time of formation and education based on Sacred Scripture and the Tradition of the Catholic Church. “The length of the catechumenate period will depend on the grace of God and on various circumstances… Nothing, therefore, can be settled a priori [that is, beforehand]. The time spent in the catechumenate should be long enough – for the conversion and faith of the catechumens to become strong” (RCIA Source Book #76).




III. Period of Purification and Enlightenment


This stage coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. It is a time of reflection, prayer, and intense spiritual preparation rather than a time of catechetical instruction. A Lenten retreat is offered during this period. During this time, catechumens celebrate several rites: The Rite of Election, or Enrollment of Names, coincides with the beginning of Lent and is celebrated by the Bishop at the cathedral church of the Diocese. The Rite includes the official enrollment of names of all those seeking baptism at the Easter Vigil. At this Rite the catechumens publicly request baptism and declare their desire to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church. After this Rite, they are referred to as the elect. The Scrutinies are three public celebrations during the Period of Purification in which the elect are invited to progress in their perception of sin and their desire for salvation. These are celebrated at the local parish church. While candidates for full communion do not celebrate neither the Rite of Election nor the Scrutinies, they do celebrate The Call to Continuing Conversion, celebrated by the Bishop at the cathedral church of the Diocese.




IV. Period of Mystagogy


Catechumens celebrate of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil, which has been done since the beginnings of the Church. Through this step the elect are admitted into the people of God. Candidates are received into full communion through the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist during the Easter season. For pastoral reasons, candidates may also celebrate during the Easter Vigil. At this time the newly initiated explore their experience by being fully initiated through participation in the Sunday Eucharist. The period is marked by actively living a life of charity, service and love. Mystagogy is a lifelong process, one that all Christians are engaged in, as we all work to deepen our sense of what it means to be a Christian.





Resources

Association for Catechumenal 
Ministry
Catholics
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RCIA