100 ways to involve parishioners in the RCIA

Warm Up by Phil Aaronson [via Flickr]The first step in building a team is to realize the team already exists. You are not creating anything new. You are enhancing and building on what already exists. Get your RCIA book and turn to paragraph 9 (page 4 in my version). Underline this phrase, about four lines down: —”the initiation of adults is the responsibility of all the baptized.”

Now repeat this mantra: “Initiation is not my job. It’s their job.” Your job is to help them do their job. The RCIA gives you a five-point outline of their job description to guide. Let’s take a look at it together (still in paragraph 9).

“[T]the faithful should remember that the supreme purpose of the apostolate is that the church’s message is made known to the world by word and deed and that his grace is communicated.”

How in the world are they going to do that? Like this (still in paragraph 9):

  1. Live like a Christian in a way the candidates can see them doing so
  2. Invite the candidates into their homes
  3. Talk to the candidates
  4. Invite the candidates to community gatherings

That’s what they have to do. What you have to do is think of creative ways to help the parishioners do these things. Don’t fall into the rut of taking on these tasks yourself. Sit down right now and list 20 ways you can encourage the parishioners to take on their role. I started a list here. You can go there and add your 20.

Whenever you celebrate a ritual with the catechumens, “the faithful should seek to be present and should take an active part in the responses, prayers, singing, and acclamations.”

Can you think of 20 ways to help them do that? Come up with your own list before you check out mine.

Election Sunday
The election of the catechumens is a huge event. It really ought to be second only to the Easter Vigil in your parish. It is like a couple that has been dating for a long time finally announces their engagement. Like an engagement, the election of the catechumens doesn’t just change them; it changes the entire parish family.

“On the day of election, because it is a day of growth for the community, the faithful, when called upon, should be sure to give honest and carefully considered testimony about the catechumens.”

Obviously, if the faithful have not been involved in the lives of the candidates during the inquiry and catechumenate stages, they won’t be able to give honest testimony. So steps one and two are critical helping the parishioners fulfill this part of their job description. Assuming you’ve gotten them this far, what are 20 things you can do to help them testify? Once you have your list, check out mine here.

“[T]he faithful should take care to participate in the rites of the scrutinies and presentations and give the elect the example of their own renewal. At the Easter Vigil, they should attach great importance to renewing their own baptismal promises.”

Give me 20, and then check mine.

“[T]he faithful should take part in the Masses for the neophytes welcome the neophytes with open arms in charity, and help them to feel more at home in the community of the baptized.”

Got your 20? If you do, compare them to mine.

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  1. Great parish response to our offer of your beautiful STUDY GUIDE for Caritas in Veritate.

    It’s the best investment we’ve made in Faith Formation at St. John Neumann parish in Irvine, CA. Response of parish members is uniformly positive and enthusiastic.

    John Gremer

  2. Nick: I am concerned with all articles that uses the acronym “RCIA” when it revers to either the process or the catechumenate itself. As a North American team member, you know how difficult it is to “change” people in their reference to RCIA as only the document and not a club or a thing, but the whole Christian Inititation ministry.

  3. Hi Rick. You make an excellent point. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people searching for information on Christian initiation ministry use “RCIA” as the search term. If we avoid using the term on the site, we will miss out on the opportunity to help a lot of people looking for help. It’s a rock and a hard place.

  4. Inquiry-Know enough personal information about the inquirer to strategically “match” them with a “like” person in the parish. Where do they work? (specific company and/or career field) What members live near them geographically? Who in parish has children of similar age attending the same school? Are the children involved in same sport? Make sure to introduce them to those folks. Explain to the Catholic WHY you are doing it. (May serve to have us all “step it up a notch” spiritually if we are ever and increasingly more aware that others are watching and looking for our example!)

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