Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (R.C.I.A)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age”
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The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process, established for the universal Church, for individuals to become Catholic and receive the sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist. This initiation process also involves a parish community experiencing a renewal in faith as it prepares and welcomes new members into the Church.
The Rite speaks of conversion as a “spiritual journey.” Centered on fostering a deep relationship with Jesus and the Church he founded, this journey takes place through distinct stages over a period suitable to bring about a thorough catechesis, significant experience of the parish community, and commitment to the liturgical and moral life of the Catholic faithful.
The RCIA process is a restoration of the ancient catechumenate, arising within the first three centuries following the era of the apostles. It was the early Church’s way of Christianizing the pagan Roman Empire. The Second Vatican Council called for the restoration and use of this venerable and powerful method of initiation for the worldwide Church (cf. SC no. 64).
The RCIA process may last for only a few months or could last for years, depending on the needs and the readiness of the catechumens and candidates.
When a child is baptized, the Church expects that the child will be gradually initiated over the years into the life of faith by his or her parents and godparents, and the parish community. When an adult or older child enters the Church, they immediately need to be initiated more completely before they receive the sacraments. The RCIA is designed to allow people to move forward when they are ready for the next step of their formation.
Periods and Stages of the Process:
- Stage of Evangelization and Pre-catechumenate.
- Stage of Catechumenate.
- Stage of Purification and Enlightenment.
- Stage of Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy.