RCIA (RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS)

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church welcomes new members to our parish community with our RCIA program. The RCIA or Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is for those who are interested in becoming a Christian in the Catholic tradition, including those from other Christian denominations. To learn more about the specifics of this program, please click on the following pdf document: RCIA Program.

 

Sermon on the MountAs Christ called His disciples to follow Him, so will He call others to join His church. If you are drawn to the Catholic faith, we welcome you and we at St. Peters make ourselves available to help you with the RCIA process, so that it may be an easy and comfortable one for you.

 

The RCIA program is exciting, rewarding, fulfilling and challenging. By the time the RCIA class is welcomed into the community at The Great Vigil, hearts are opened, faith is strengthened and love is enflamed.

 

Your new life in Christ in the Catholic faith is a gradual process, one that involves four steps: pre-catechumenate, catechumenate, Lenten purification and mystagogia. Along the way are key rites: acceptance, election and initiation. Below is an outline of this process.

 

The Pre-Catechumenate

RCIA typically begins when a person calls the parish office and says, “I want to be baptized or I want to know more about the Catholic Church.” Such an occurrence begins the process of initiation, also referred to as the period of evangelization, the pre-catechumenate and the inquiry period.

 

RITE OF ACCEPTANCE: After the initial conversion to Jesus Christ by the inquirers has taken place, they celebrate the first major liturgical ritual of the initiation process, the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. During this rite, which is usually celebrated during Sunday Mass, the candidates for initiation are publicly welcomed for the first time.

 

Catechumenate

This second stage of the initiation process is the extended period of time of formal training in the Christian way of life. There are two groups, the catechumens that are unbaptized and those who are baptized, either in a Catholic or Protestant, but not fully initiated into the Church. At this stage, there is learning about the sacred Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church. Attendance at weekly Mass is made to hear the Word of God. In many parishes, the catechumens and candidates (those in the period of the catechumenate who are already baptized) are dismissed after the homily. That is, they are invited to leave the main body of the Church and meet with a catechist to discuss the Scriptures they heard proclaimed at Mass. When they have experienced a true conversion to the Christian way of life (which the Church says is at least one year for the unbaptized), they celebrate the second major ritual in the process of initiation.

 

RITE OF ELECTION: The second major ritual of the RCIA usually occurs on the First Sunday of Lent. The catechumens have been elected by God to receive the sacraments of initiation. The Church gives voice to God’s election and calls each one of the catechumens by name to sign the Book of the Elect.

 

Period Of Purification

This final period of preparation is one of intense, spiritual recollection that usually coincides with Lent. It is a period of purification and enlightenment. It is a time for reflection and prayer more than teaching. The candidates, now called the elect, purify their minds and hearts by celebrating several rituals. The three purifying rituals, known as the Scrutinies, strengthen the elect and help to complete their conversion. The Presentation of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer enlighten the minds of the elect in the final weeks of their preparation for the sacraments.

 

Lent ends when the sacred Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter begins, at sunset Thursday of Holy Week. Finally, some preparatory rites on Holy Saturday morning serve as the elect’s immediate preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation, which will be celebrated that night at the Easter Vigil.

 

SACRAMENT OF INITIATION: At the Easter Vigil after sunset on Holy Saturday, the elect and possibly some previously baptized candidates celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism (for the unbaptized), Confirmation and Eucharist.

 

Period Of Mystagogy

After the Easter celebration the process of initiation continues during the Eastertide period of mystagogia (Greek word signifying a deepening understanding of the mysteries of our faith). During the Easter season, the neophytes (newly initiated) gather each week to deepen their understanding of the paschal mystery. The Church uses the period of mystagogy to help the neophytes understand and live out their new lives as part of the Body of Christ.