Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

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What are you looking for? They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”

John 1:38-39

Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil,  thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

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What is RCIA?

From the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

“The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful. By joining the catechumens in reflecting on the value of the paschal mystery and by renewing their own conversion, the faithful provide an example that will help the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously.” (RCIA # 4)

“As a general rule, parish priests (pastors) should make use of the rite of initiation in such a way that the sacraments themselves are celebrated at the Easter Vigil and the rite of election takes place on the First Sunday of Lent.” (RCIA #17)

“At the conclusion of the period of the catechumenate, a rite of sending the catechumens to their rite of election by the bishop may be celebrated in parishes…” (RCIA #106)

“Before the rite of election is celebrated, the catechumens are expected to have undergone a conversion in mind and in action and to have developed a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching as well as a spirit of faith and charity.” (RCIA #120)

“The election, marked with a rite of such solemnity, is the focal point of the Church’s concern for the catechumens. Admission to election there belongs to the bishop, and the presiding celebrant for the rite of election is the bishop himself.” (RCIA #121)

“The period of purification and enlightenment, which the rite of election begins, customarily coincides with Lent.” (RCIA #138) This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their own consciences and do penance.” (RCIA #139)

RCIA Glossary

Catechumen: One who is not baptized and is preparing for full initiation at the Easter Vigil through baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist.

Candidate: One who is already baptized either in the Catholic Church or another Christian faith and who is preparing to complete his/her Christian initiation through confirmation and Eucharist.

Catechumenate: Second period of formal formation in the process of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults . This period involves intense preparation in word, worship, community life and apostolic works.

Elect: The name given to the catechumens who celebrate the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent with the bishop, signifying their being chosen for the initiation sacraments at Easter.

Godparent: The Godparent serves as a companion for the Christian life for the elect. The Godparent helps the elect integrate into the Catholic community by offering ongoing support, care and the sharing of faith. They participate in the Rite of Election and the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation at the Easter Vigil Mass.

Catechumenate Sponsor: A Catechumenate Sponsor is appointed by the parish to accompany any catechumen or candidate through the catechumenate period. Sponsors are persons who get to know their catechumens or candidates and can stand as witnesses to the catechumens’ or candidates’ moral character, faith and intention for the Rite of Election or Rite of Calling the Candidates.

Rite of Election: This is the rite that is celebrated by the bishop, which proclaims the catechumens readiness for their celebration of the sacraments of initiation at Easter. This is usually celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent at the cathedral by the bishop.

Rite of Calling the Candidates to Continuing Conversion: This is the parish rite that proclaims the candidates readiness for their completion of the sacraments of Christian initiation. This is usually celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent at the local parish by the local pastor.