The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is aministry to adults who are interested in learning more about the Catholic faith. Many participants – called Catechumens or Candidates – decide to receive the sacraments of our faith and live their lives as Catholic Christians. RCIA addresses the conversion needs of:
- Adults who have never been baptized
- Adults who have been baptized in another Christian tradition
- Adults who were baptized Catholic but have had no instruction in the faith or have not received the Sacraments of First Eucharist and/or Confirmation
The mission of the Rite of Christian Initiation at Maria Immacolata is to encourage and support the faith formation of those seeking to live their lives as Catholic Christians. The Maria Immacolata community does this through example, prayer, team work,discernment, reflection and sharing the faith journey.
The Four Stages of RCIA
These stages are of indefinite length, except for the Period of Purification and Enlightenment which coincides with the season of Lent.
The Period of Inquiry, also called the Pre-Catechumenate, starts when you first become aware of your interest in learning more about the Catholic Church. At our Tuesday night meetings you will have the opportunity to ask your questions, tell your story and learn how we believe our faith makes a difference in our lives. This Period lasts as long as you need to develop a sense of what it means to be a Catholic and make a decision about whether this is right for you. Inquiry is a little like a get-acquainted session. After atime, you decide whether you want to continue learning more and strengthen your affiliation with the Church.
You will be asked if you believe:
- that God acts in history and is a force in our lives right now.
- that Jesus is the Son of God.
- that the Church carries on the mission of Christ today.
If you believe this – even if all your questions are notanswered – you are accepted into the Catechumenate. This decision does not commit you to becoming Catholic.
If you are ready to become a Catechumen (a person preparing for Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation) or a Candidate (a baptized person preparing for First Communion and/or Confirmation) you will be enrolled in the Catechumenate at a Sunday morning Mass. The Catechumenate lasts as long as it takes for you to discern a conversion in your heart.
You will continue to meet and, through a study of Scripture, explore how Jesus works in your life. The RCIA team will provide more in-depth information about our faith. You will also be expected to attend a specific Mass on Sunday. During the Mass you will be dismissed after the homily and meet with Parishioners who will share their own faith journey with you.
As Catechumens and Candidates you are entitled to a Catholic wedding and a Catholic funeral.
Each Catechumen and Candidate has a sponsor. This is a Catholic who serves as your guide/companion/mentor during your faith journey. You may have a Catholic friend who you would like to be your sponsor or we can find a sponsor for you. A sponsor is a practicing Catholic who is 16 years or older. If the sponsor is married, it must bea marriage recognized by the Catholic Church.
3) Purification and Enlightenment
This next Period of the RCIA is the only Period with a definite length – the six weeks of Lent. It is celebrated with the Rite of Sending – which occurs at Mass – and the Rite of Election – which occurs at St. Thomas More Cathedral.
Your decision to enter this Period indicates that you have decided to receive the sacraments at the Easter Vigil and join us in living the life of an adult Catholic. You may not have all your questions answered yet. The journey of faith is a lifelong journey and you will continue to learn and grow in your faith.
This Period ends in a beautiful celebration at the Easter Vigil – the night before Easter – when you will be blessed with the sacraments you have prepared to receive.
This is the time after your initiation into the Church.The formal Period of Mystagogy ends on Pentecost Sunday – 50 days afteryou receive the sacraments – but your growth in your faith is a life long process.
RCIA is about growth in faith and growth in a relationship with God. When Jesus said “Come follow me,” He was talking about a way of life, a change in our hearts, heads and actions. This is just the beginning of a new life!