RCIA is an ancient process, established by the Catholic Church, for individuals to inquire, learn, and grow in the Catholic Faith. It is intended to prepare these individuals for full communion in the Catholic Church. The process can be divided into four steps. 1) An inquiry period for potential catechumens to investigate the faith and ask questions; 2) a catechetical (teaching) period during which elements of the faith are presented and shared; 3) a purification period, coinciding with Lent, to prepare for reception of the sacraments at the Easter Vigil; 4) and finally a period after Easter to reflect on the mysteries that have been received. The process involves more than attending a few classes. There are several specific liturgical events and social times designed to focus on the mystery of the Church and what it means to be Catholic.
Mission of the RCIA Team
The mission of the RCIA team is to facilitate the process, as established by the Catholic Church, so that those inquiring and learning about their faith may experience Christ through His Church and in those that serve Him. The goal is to provide a welcoming environment for all inquirers to learn about the Catholic Church so that they develop the desire within their heart to become a part of God's family through His Church.
RCIA is the work of the entire parish. Many opportunities exist for members of the parish to assist in the process. For instance, all of us come in contact with individuals throughout the day who are asking religious or philosophical questions about life. When these opportunities arise, we are called by God to befriend these individuals, show them the love of Christ, and eventually invite them to an RCIA inquiry session.
If an inquirer decides to make a commitment to learn more about the faith, then a Catholic sponsor will be needed. This is a key role for a member of our parish. Catholic sponsors are critical to the process. They serve as the representative of the Church with the specific duty to become a close companion and shepherd for the candidate. They must encourage, share, and assist as necessary along the journey. They accompany the candidate to all of the teaching sessions, participate in the liturgical celebrations, and offer prayers and sacrifices. In addition, there are many other opportunities for assistance. The RCIA team coordinates all of the events throughout the process: recruitment of potential candidates, facilitation of inquiry sessions, teaching sessions, liturgical events, special retreat days, and various outings. The teaching sessions are each conducted like a small retreat. Each session requires registration, setup, and catechetical instruction.