R.C.I.A. is the abbreviation for the “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults” – a ministry offered for adults who are interested in being baptized, and/or for Christians from other denominations who wish to become Catholic. It is also tailored toward those who were baptized Catholic but never made their first communion, first reconciliation, and/or confirmation. It is a process of exploring and learning more about the Catholic faith while developing a deeper prayer and faith life.
The program begins in the fall and runs until after the adults receive their sacraments at the Easter Vigil in the spring. It includes weekly meetings, and later in the process, some participation in Sunday morning mass.
Corpus Christi R.C.I.A. recruits parishioners to act as volunteer team members and sponsors under the direction of the RCIA Director. In this capacity, the team members and sponsors deepen their own spirituality as they continue to learn more about their own faith tradition while sharing their experiences as Catholics.
What it means, how it works…
The R.C.I.A. is more a “process” than a “program” of initiating adults into the life of the Church. It is a liturgically based process of formation so that those involved learn about the traditions of the Church year by experiencing and living through them. For example, near All Saints Day, members learn about the Catholic understanding of the “communion of saints.” At the beginning of Advent the focus is on the history, tradition, spirituality, and practices of the Advent season. During Lent the group explores traditional Lenten practices, etc. Throughout the process there are plenty of opportunities to be introduced to and experiment with different forms of prayer. Regular small group sharing affords the opportunity for members to share their own spiritual questions, doubts, hopes, and experiences. Besides these “affective” practices, each week’s session focuses on a particular broad theme or teaching of the Catholic Church with plenty of time for questions and discussion.
The initial stage of RCIA is called the “Inquiry” stage. Anyone interested in exploring becoming Catholic or receiving their sacraments may come with no pressure to continue if it is not the right process for them. This stage can last as long as a person feels it needs to – there is no limit for how long someone may continue as an “Inquirer.” Once a person is clear that he or she wishes to commit to becoming Catholic and/or receiving their sacraments, they enter into the more formal stage called the “Catechumenate” which continues until they are baptized, receive first communion and/or are confirmed at the Easter Vigil mass in the springtime.