What is the RCIA?
RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is a parish-based program to help people who desire to know more about the Catholic Faith. It is designed to meet their diverse spiritual needs while they explore life in the Catholic Church.
The RCIA, then, is the process by which adults ordinarily become Catholics. It is a process marked by numerous rites -- i.e., ceremonies and celebrations -- with prescribed words and focus. Each stage of the process is celebrated within the parish worshiping community.
The RCIA focuses on the Christian initiation of adults through the reception of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist, ordinarily celebrated in a single liturgy during the Easter Vigil Mass.
Participants include catechumens -- those who have not been baptized -- and candidates -- those who have already been baptized. The latter may have been baptized in another Christian tradition or may have been baptized as Catholics but never practiced the Catholic Faith. Other Catholics, who want to deepen their faith and their understanding of the Catholic Church, are certainly welcome to take part.
Basic concepts of the RCIA:
- Becoming a Catholic is coming into a community of believers.
- The RCIA takes place in an experience of community.
- The RCIA stages are celebrated in community with appropriate liturgical rites.
- The RCIA experience follows the flow of the liturgical seasons through a lectionary-based approach.
- The RCIA process encourages authentic Catholicity.
An Overview of the RCIA Process:
Phase 1: Period of Inquiry (or Pre-catechumenate) Rite of Acceptance Phase 2: Catechumenate Rite of Sending and Rite of Election Phase 3: Lenten Period of Purification and Enlightenment Penitential Rite and Scrutinies Rite of Initiation at Easter Vigil Phase 4: Mystagogy
Information on the RCIA:
Other RCIA handouts:
Some basic guides to Catholic practices and liturgy:
Catholic Spirituality. Read this address given by Thomas Howard, author and seminary professor, who converted to Catholicism from Evangelical Protestantism. This address was delivered to an audience made up largely of Evangelical Christians at Gordon College.