Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
Have you have ever wondered why we do what we do as Catholics or are interested in the Catholic Christian faith? Would you like to better understand what Catholic's believe? We have just the opportunity for you!
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, shortened to the RCIA, is for people (17 years and older) who want to either learn about the Catholic faith or are interested in becoming Catholic. At the Catholic Church of St. Mark, we have an on-going group of interested people who attend weekend Mass and gather together once a week to explore Catholic beliefs and traditions and are able to have their questions answered.
The RCIA process is focused on those adults that have not been baptized and desire to inquire into the Catholic faith and way of life or for those that have been baptized in another faith experience and desire to become a Catholic or have been baptized in the Catholic faith and have never been formed in this faith tradition.
The full RCIA journey consists of four periods of awakening, growth and formation marked by celebration of three major rites (steps) involving the whole St. Mark community.
The first period of the journey is the Pre-Catechumenate or Inquiry Period where seekers ask questions about Christianity and the Catholic way of life. They receive truthful, life-sharing answers from Catholic Christians - the Inquiry Team. The informal discussions during the Inquiry Period help the seekers link their personal life stories to the Good News as witnessed and lived by this Catholic community.
As each Inquirer discerns to continue the conversion journey within our faith community, he or she is invited to experience the first major rite of the RCIA process, the Rite of Acceptance for the non-baptized (Catechumen) and the Rite of Welcoming for those baptized in another Christian faith experience (Candidate). Several times each year at Saturday evening or Sunday Mass, Inquirers enter the second period of the journey, the Catechumenate, by being marked with the sign of the cross, a symbol of both the joy and the cost of Christian discipleship.
The word Catechumenate means "time of serious study" and Inquirers who become Catechumens -- those who have not been baptized -- or Candidates -- baptized Christians from another faith experience -- join us at Saturday evening or Sunday Mass during the Liturgy of the Word, after which they are "Dismissed" and sent to continue reflection on the Scriptures. The length of the Catechumenate varies according to the individual's journey and readiness. The norm is a year or more.
Our Catechumens and Candidates do not travel alone during this period. Sponsors are chosen from the parish community to act as spiritual companions, providing personal support, sharing experience of Christian life and helping make the Catechumens and Candidates feel "at home" with Catholic religious practice.
The Catechumenate Period ends when a Catechumen or Candidate is ready to begin the third period of the journey, the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, which coincides with Lent each year. On the first Sunday of Lent Catechumens are "Sent" to meet with the Bishop, if discerned ready to receive Initiation Sacraments at the Easter Vigil, to celebrate the second major rite of the RCIA process, the Rite of Election for Catechumens. Candidates, who will make their "Profession of Faith" at the Easter Vigil, on the second Sunday of Lent, will celebrate the Call to Continuing Conversion.
Purification and Enlightenment
The Period of Purification and Enlightenment is a time of final preparation for initiation sacraments. The period is one of prayer, fasting and reflection for both Catechumens (now known as the Elect) and Candidates. During this period, the Elect experience the Scrutinies, on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. They are special rituals which seal their break with evil in preparation for baptism.
Easter Initiation Sacraments
The Candidates (making the "Profession of Faith) and the Elect are initiated through the third and consummating rite of the RCIA process, the Sacraments of Initiation, at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. On that night, when the light drives out darkness, joyful sounds fill the silence, we proclaim and renew our resurrection hope, the Elect culminate their long journey to initiation in the waters of Baptism -- then, along with the candidates, after making the "Profession of Faith, the newly baptized are sealed with the oil of Confirmation and share at the table the bread and wine (the Body and Blood of Christ) of the Eucharist as full members of the St Mark Catholic community.
Full initiation begins the fourth period of the RCIA journey, the Mystagogy, which means "leading into the mysteries". The newly Initiated or "Neophytes" meet weekly between Easter and Pentecost to explore and confirm the Easter experience, along with ways to integrate into the faith community. From Pentecost until the following Easter, Mystagogy continues with intermittent meetings. Mystagogy is the final stage of the RCIA process, but it is in turn the beginning of a pilgrimage of lifelong, continuous conversion in full communion with the Roman Catholic community of Christians.
RCIA Formation sessions are conducted 3 times a month on Mondays at 7:15pm. The process begins with a meeting with Deacon Mike Johnson, the RCIA Coordinator. You can contact him at 479-1010 .