Rite of Christian of Adults (RCIA)
St Lawrence is happy to welcome new members
into the Catholic Church through a process of
education, faith sharing, and rituals known as the
'Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
This process includes several stages marked
by prayer, study, and discussion. Included in the
process are several Rites, which take place within
the context of the Mass. The U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops (USCCB) describes the RCIA as a
process in which participants "undergo . . .
conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in
Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the
sacraments . . . The RCIA process follows the ancient
practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism."
The RCIA process can be adapted to meet the specific needs of each family
Who is welcome to begin the RCIA Journey?
All people who are open to discerning their personal experience of faith and to learning more about the Catholic Church are welcome to begin the RCIA process. The RCIA process can be applied to the following 3 groups:
Unbaptized persons who have never been baptized and who need a process to help them grow in awareness to God's call to conversion as well as ways to respond to that call. They are considered catechumens.
Baptized in another Christian church: Those who were baptized into another Christian denomination and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. They are considered candidates. For baptized Christians interested in possibly joining the Catholic Church, the process will vary depending upon the depth on one's religious and spiritual readiness.
Baptized, but un-catechized Catholic adults: persons who were baptized as infants and not given any religious instruction in the Catholic faith. These adults will be prepared to celebrate the sacraments of penance, confirmation and Eucharist. They are also considered candidates.
Dcn. Rock Hasenberg
First Step: Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens
Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. This is a liturgical rite in which the inquirer states publicly in the midst of the parish community that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Church. St Lawrence parish community affirms this desire by accepting the person and his or her intention to follow God’s call.
For candidates who have already been baptized and are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, this step is called the Rite of Welcoming the Candidate.
Period of the Catechumenate
The second stage is called the catechumenate. This is a time of formation and education, and learning is based on Sacred Scripture as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Catechumens learn about Catholic teachings and values, what it means to be a member of the Catholic community, prayer and worship, and are also introduced to the apostolic life. This is also a time for the catechumen or candidate to learn how to live as a Catholic Christian through their faith journey and the support of their parish community. Each individual learns what it means to be a Catholic and what changes they may need to make in their lives. It is a time of deepening one’s faith, initial conversion, and commitment to the Church.
Second Step: Rite of Election
The Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names coincides with the beginning of Lent and is celebrated by the Bishop at the cathedral church of the diocese. The Rite includes the official enrollment of names of all those seeking baptism at the Easter Vigil. At this Rite the catechumens publicly request baptism and declare their desire to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church.
Period of Purification and Enlightenment
The third stage is the period of purification and enlightenment. It coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. It is a time of reflection, prayer, and spiritual direction rather than a time of catechetical instruction. This period is intended to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper personal knowledge of Christ.
Third Step: Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
At the Easter Vigil, the catechumen receives the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church and will continue to live out his or her response to God as a member of this faith community.
Fourth Step: Period of Mystagogy
The fourth stage is the period of post baptismal catechesis or mystagogy. At this time, the newly initiated explore their experience of being fully initiated through participation with all the faithful at Sunday Eucharist and through appropriate catechesis. Emphasis is placed on the study of the Gospel, the reception of the Eucharist, and actively living a life of charity, service, and love.
The Pinnacle of the Journey
The celebration of the Sacrament of Initiation at the Easter Vigil marks the highlight of each person’s spiritual journey, as one celebrates with family and church community full entrance into the Catholic Church. The Liturgy begins with the Service of Light which includes the blessing of the new fire and the Paschal candle which symbolizes Jesus, the light of the World. The second part consists of the Liturgy of the Word with a number of Scripture readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the candidates are presented to the members of the community, who pray for them and join in the Litany of the Saints. After the Litany and prayer for the elect, the presiding priest blesses the water placing the Easter or Paschal candle into the baptismal water. Those seeking baptism then renounce sin and profess their faith after which water is poured over the head of each candidate with the words said "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit
After the baptism the newly baptized are presented with a candle lighted from the Paschal Candle. The newly baptized are then confirmed by the priest who imposes his hands on their heads, and invokes the gift of the Holy Spirit. He then anoints them with the oil called Sacred Chrism.
The Mass continues in the usual fashion. At this point the newly baptized can participate in the general intercessions, in bringing their gifts to the altar, as well as sharing in the offering of Christ's sacrifice. At the Communion of the Mass, each of the newly baptized receives the Eucharist, Christ's body and blood, for the first time.
Companions for the Journey
Jesus recognized the importance of community and teamwork in spreading the Gospel, as displayed by the fact that he called a group of apostles and often sent his apostles out two by two. St Lawrence recognizes the importance of support as one progresses through the RCIA process. Since the RCIA process takes place within our parish community, the prayers from this community are essential for the journey. Moreover, the prayers of the universal Church are with each candidate, providing spiritual support for the journey and connection to the Church community.
Beginning the Journey
For many people interested in becoming Catholic or entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, the process can be somewhat confusing or intimidating. After all, this is a major decision in one’s life. The decision to join the Church is exciting and will lead to a deepening of personal faith and relationship to God, others, and self. No matter what has brought you here, the fact that you are interested in taking the next step shows your openness to God and God’s call in your life.
Feel free to contact Deacon Rock Hasenberg or Cindy Hasenberg or our pastor, Father Carre and arrange a meeting to discuss your desire to become a full member of the Catholic Church. Our RCIA program begins in the fall and includes a series of weekly meetings.