How do I lead an ongoing catechumenate in a campus ministry setting when we only have the catechumens from September to April?
Some of the general adaptations you’ll need to make for RCIA in a campus ministry setting depends a bit on the type of campus you’ll be working at. Is it a commuter campus or a dorm campus? Is it a Catholic college or a secular campus? Do you have a campus ministry team of professional staff or team of student leaders? Or are you by yourself as the campus minister? Is the campus ministry part of a parish community or is it an independent community? Is the school in session during Holy Week or will they be on spring break during the Easter Vigil?
Knowing some of these specifics will help you know how to best use your resources and to adapt to the natural school schedule.
Here are some basic steps you can take in any situation:
Basic steps for campus RCIA
It’s important to get inquirers and catechumens connected not only with good sponsors on campus (peers, faculty members, older community members) but also with their home parish and the catechumenate team there. If they will not be going home for spring beak, find an RCIA team wherever they will spend their breaks, for example, doing study abroad or internships.
Letting their off-campus parish community know that they are in the catechumenate can help them continue their formation even during vacations and breaks. At the very least, they can participate in Sunday dismissal sessions. This also helps to disconnect the campus ministry’s RCIA process from the school’s annual schedule so that you aren’t tied completely to a ten-month schedule.
Schedule Rite of Acceptance in the spring
Even on campus, it’s important to plan for a year-round catechumenate. One way to do this is to schedule a Rite of Acceptance in the spring. Or schedule one in early summer if your campus community celebrates Mass year-round. Be sure to dismiss the catechumens at every Eucharist throughout the year.
Use social networking
Finally, it will be important to use the electronic forms of communication that most of the students already use on a daily basis. You can use e-mail, text messaging, blogs, and other social networks to keep in contact with catechumens (and their sponsors) during semester breaks. You could also encourage catechumens, sponsors, and your catechumenate team to do faith sharing or ongoing mystagogy throughout the year even when they aren’t on campus by getting them to blog or do updates on social networking sites.
These are just some ideas to get you thinking creatively about doing the catechumenate in a campus ministry setting. Does anyone else have any tips about things they have tried?