Becoming Catholic: RCIA
“O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 34:8
The Catholic Church is unlike any other organization on earth. In fact, it is more accurate to call the Church an “organism” – a living body: Christ’s body.
Click here to watch a video Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, "I Was An Atheist."
Why be Catholic?
To become Catholic is to become part of His body – a process that begins with Baptism and continues forever. Being Catholic in today’s world provides both great challenges and great opportunities for personal growth and self-awareness, and also a solid foundation for a life of community and relationship with God.
Parishes welcome new adult and young adult members into the Catholic Church through a process of education, faith sharing, and rituals known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
The RCIA Process
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a process of inquiry and a process of initiation into the Catholic Church. It is designed specifically for those who have not yet been baptized; however, the RCIA welcomes individuals who have been baptized in other Christian traditions as well as those who have been baptized Catholic, but have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
There is no commitment required to begin this process, and throughout each period of the RCIA, participants discern God’s call in their lives and their readiness to move forward to the next period. Participants are welcome to stay in the RCIA for as long as they wish, with no pressure to move forward when they are not ready.
Below are the four periods of the RCIA process. RCIA adapted for children follows a similar process; however, the curriculum used is adapted for working with children.
Period of Evangelization and Pre-Catechumenate (Inquiry)
Everyone who comes into the RCIA has a different background and is at a different place in their faith journey. For this reason, the first period of Evangelization and Pre-Catechumenate has no official start or end date. Though, we do have a more formal introduction to the RCIA, which is scheduled to begin in early Fall. We begin our RCIA process with a 7-week journey designed to help inquirers hear the Good News and develop a personal relationship with the Lord. During this period, we use a series by ChristLife Ministries: Discovering Christ. The whole parish community is welcome to join us for these evenings! For our RCIA adapted for children, we use a program called Journey of Faith which is specifically designed for children.
Period of Catechumenate
When the inquirer is ready to make the next step, he or she enters the next period of initiation into the Church, the Period of Catechumenate. At this period, the candidate is expressing a deeper interest and greater desire to join the Catholic Church and our parish community. In this period, there is a more detailed explanation of the Church’s teachings and a deeper focus on the need for moral conversion. The faith is presented, week by week in the context of the liturgy (Sunday Mass). RCIA candidates attend the first half of either the 4:00pm Saturday Mass at OLA, the 9:30am Sunday Mass at SMG, or the 11:00am Sunday Mass at OLA and are then dismissed before the homily. We continue to meet during the week throughout this period and use a series by Liguori Press: Journey of Faith. We have a similar series that we use when working with Children, also published by Liguori Press.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment
After a period of study and discernment, those who have discerned a genuine call and are ready, will then be invited to take the final step before entering into communion with the Church. These weeks leading up to Easter serve as a period of reflection, repentance, and prayer. This period is designed to prepare the RCIA candidates’ hearts to receive Jesus and begin living a sacramental life of faith and it serves as the final period of discernment before making a full commitment to follow Christ in communion with the Church. During this period we continue our weekly meetings, using the series by Liguori Publications: Journey of Faith. An adapted version is used for working with children preparing to be fully initiated into the Catholic church.
Reception of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion
Celebrated at the Easter Vigil
Period of Mystagogy
The final period of the RCIA is a period of reflection and prayer for the neophytes (newly baptized). This is a final period of preparation to live a faithful and dynamic Catholic life, as well as another opportunity to grow in friendships with fellow parishioners and build up our Church community. During this period we continue to use the series from Liguori Publications: Journey of Faith. This period is open to all parishioners. Our formal time together ends with a brunch on Pentecost Sunday.
If you are interested in learning more about our RCIA Process at Ave Maria Parish, contact: Kate McGrath, Pastoral Associate, via email or at 781-598-4313 x224.
To learn more about how to become a Catholic and what RCIA is, watch this video from Breaking the Habit's Father Casey Cole.