As we know, various surveys have shown that many Catholics, unfortunately, do not practice their faith on a regular basis. They appear to take their faith for granted. However, the Catholic Church is blessed to have many converts who have embraced the faith and truly appreciate it. They go through a process of inquiry, understanding, and catechesis prior to conversion.
Our faith community has vibrant programs for those adults and children interested in becoming Catholic, and for those baptized Catholics who have not yet received the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. The programs are the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), and the Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC). Adults and children are invited to learn about the Catholic Church, and they make the free choice to embrace Catholic teaching and become members of the Church.
Many who have participated in past programs have commented on how enriching the programs were as they grew in their knowledge and understanding of the Catholic faith. They appreciated the great support provided by program coordinators, instructors, and sponsors. Many have become active members of our faith community.
As explained in the publication, Our Sunday Visitor (OSV), as previously noted, “Catholic parishes offer inquiry sessions that allow seekers to examine the Catholic faith more closely. During these sessions, participants ask questions, explore Catholic teachings, and discover what it means to be a Catholic Christian. These sessions are designed to offer accurate information about the Catholic Church – with no strings attached. If participants feel the desire to become Catholic, they may move into a deeper level of faith formation that focuses on prayer, sharing, community, and reflection, called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.”
The steps in the RCIA process, as explained in OSV are as follows:
* The Precatechumenate, or period of inquiry, welcomes newcomers to ask questions as they begin to learn more about the Church.
* The Catechumenate is a time of serious formation, often with others who are inquiring about the faith.
* The Period of Purification and Enlightenment, “which coincides with Lent, is a period of continued instruction coupled with more intensive preparation and prayer. This period culminates with the Sacraments of Initiation (baptism, confirmation, holy Eucharist), bringing the candidates and catechumens into the full communion of the Catholic Church, usually at the Easter Vigil. (A candidate is a baptized Christian; a catechumen is an unbaptized candidate.)”
* The Mystagogy is the time “after the newly initiated has been fully received into the Church; it lasts from Easter to Pentecost.
All of these stages are marked by distinct liturgical rites. The process is similar, but more simplified, for children participating in the RCIC program.
Our parish RCIA and RCIC programs for the year have begun, but it is not too late to participate. We expect that many in the programs will receive the appropriate sacraments at the Easter Vigil next year. If you know of someone who may be interested in the programs, please contact our parish office or any of our clergy.