What is RCIA?
RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. RCIA is a process where non-baptized men and women enter the Catholic Church. It includes several stages that includes study, prayer and rites at Mass. Participants in the RCIA are known as catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism. In 1974, the Rite for Christian Initiation for Adults was formally approved for use in the United States.
BECOMING A CATHOLIC No one is born Catholic. An unbaptized person may wish to explore becoming a Catholic. Every fall, a group of adults gather to begin that process. They meet regularly with lay leaders and a priest or Deacon. The group (known as the Catechumenate) moves in stages or steps toward Lent and the Easter Vigil when Baptism is celebrated. Someone baptized in another denomination may now wish to be a Catholic. A group similar to the Catechumenate receives instruction, guidance, and support. Reception into the church usually also takes place at the Easter Vigil. Baptized Catholics frequently wish to discover more about their faith. There may be some who missed essential religious formation may now be eager to continue the growth that all Catholics should experience. Throughout the year, the parish offers series and sessions for such adults
What is the Process? The RCIA process has several distinct stages. These Catholic RCIA stages are a good model of faith development for a person. Inquiry: the initial period before someone decides to enter the Catholic Church. It involves asking questions and checking it out, but that person isn’t yet ready to commit. Catechumenate: those who decide to enter the Church and are being trained for a life in Christ are called catechumens, an ancient name from the early Church. In this stage, you’re developing your faith and are being “catechized”—learning catechism, or the basic points about Catholic faith and life. Purification and preparation: The Church will help a person focus and intensify their faith as they prepare themselves to commit their life to Christ and be received into the Church at Easter. When following the RCIA process, a candidate will go through a beautiful series of Gospel-based meditations during Lent, which is the time frame of this period. Initiation itself is the culmination of the whole process! A person is received into the Church during the Easter Vigil Mass, where they will receive the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist. (If someone is already baptized, they won’t be baptized again.) Mystagogy: after reception into the Church at Easter, this period lets an individual reflect and learn more about the mysteries of the Mass and the Sacraments