TeamRCIA Meets with Diocesan Directors

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIA

TeamRCIA hosted a meeting online with diocesan directors yesterday to talk about the formation needs of those who minister in Christian Initiation. We discussed how best to meet those needs now that the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, the premier organization for RCIA institutes for more than 30 years, is closing its doors on June 30.

Out of our contact list of about 80 diocesan personnel, 45 signed up to join us for this discussion. Several more who could not be present asked to be kept informed of our plans and progress. The energy for working together is high!

The team at TeamRCIA was excited about this meeting, too. Nick Wagner, Diana Macalintal, Rita Burns Senseman, and I did the planning, and one of our favorite collaborators, Sr. Miriam Malone, was also able to join us and share her wisdom.

What did we talk about?

  • The need for training events and tools that fit the people who are entrusted with catechumenate ministry today, many of whom are volunteers working on a limited budget
  • The need to keep the vision alive, and hold it up as a model for all catechesis
  • The need for resourcing in Spanish
  • The need to work together with priests and bishops
  • The challenge of getting beyond “The Catechism is my textbook” to understanding true formation
  • The challenge of sticking with those who have been through an intense workshop experience, to help them integrate it into everyday life

A three-step process

TeamRCIA proposed a three-step process that we could design and offer to hosting dioceses, drawing from the expertise and resources available at TeamRCIA and with the collaboration of others. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the model:

  1. Preliminary on-line work to get people thinking about the topic
  2. An overnight workshop: Friday night through Saturday afternoon
  3. On-line follow up in the style of “distance learning” with multiple components to deepen and reinforce what was learned in the live event

The diocesan directors liked this model. In fact, more than half of them volunteered to host us in their own dioceses to pilot the program in 2014 — and several who can’t do it in 2014 were open to doing it at some future time. Some great practical suggestions were surfaced, and all were recorded so that when we plan we can follow up.

Like a good network meeting, we ended up sharing information too — who is doing what, what’s working and what isn’t. We even surfaced the names of some bishops who might help us in the future, as we try to keep this ministry vital and growing.

When we at TeamRCIA were planning yesterday’s meeting, in the back of our minds was the story of Pentecost. Certainly the end of Forum has put many people into a mood of uncertainty about the future. But that sort of mood is precisely when faith is needed most.

Come Holy Spirit!

TeamRCIA has a lot of faithful readers and visitors to the website. If you are one of them, and you weren’t at yesterday’s meeting, here is how you can help. Call or e-mail your diocesan director (of RCIA or faith formation or liturgy or whoever is responsible for helping people to implement the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and find out if they are aware of the good things that are going on at TeamRCIA. Maybe we can join hands with them as we continue to plan for the future.

Oh, and one more thing. Please pray for us, that what we do together with these generous and good diocesan people will give glory to God and further the growth of the RCIA with integrity.

Photo courtesy of Tish Scargill

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  1. Alleluia! It was a good meeting! I was very impressed by the sense of hopefulness for what we can accomplish together and by the sense of determination to keep initiation ministry vibrant and improving.

    In particular, to your first point, Rita, I appreciated how several diocesan leaders stressed the importance of tailoring in-service and training to meet the needs of folks in their diocese. They told TeamRCIA how important it was for the folks in the local diocese to be involved in the planning. I think that is very telling, considering how busy and over-loaded many diocesan leaders are.

    I also think that providing assistance to those who minister in Spanish is very important. That point kept re-surfacing in our discussion!

    Lastly, I am so very sad about the dissolution of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. What marvelous and important work Forum did. But, I am hopeful that by working together, we can continue the mission!

  2. I want to say thank you to all of you who have taken up this task so that we can continue our formation direction in the future. We are also very saddened in the Diocese of Gary (IN) regarding the closing of Forum. The pastor of the parish I work for is our Doicesan Director and I will try to keep him abreast of what is going on as he wears many hats and sometimes does not have the opportunity to respond to emails.
    Again, thank you for all you do.
    St. Michael Parish, Schererville, IN

  3. I am delighted that TeamRCIA is working on a plan with diocesan directors to support catechumenate formation. It answers a great need. I like that we are pooling are diocesan needs and talents with TeamRCIA to create what I believe will be an excellent resource for keeping the catechumenate healthy and vibrant in the parishes. The needs surfaced in our first webinar resonate with my experience and I look forward to addressing them together.



  4. Thanks for the comments, Janice and Wendy. And, thanks for the reminder to contact my diocesan director and let him know what’s happening. The more of us involved, the better!

  5. I add my thanks in taking up this very important work. My relationshop with Forum was not as long as most people have experienced, but I know we all will be feeling saddened at the loss of such a valuable resources. But what brings hope is that the work and the discussions will carry on. Isn’t that what every good leader wants…for the work to carry on in their absence? Forum has helped to form some great leaders, and as ministers of our Church, we continue to do all we can to see the work kept alive! Thank you to the team for such great efforts!!

  6. I want to praise the photograph above and explain it to those who weren’t at the meeting.

    Diana was able to get a map and pinpoint where all the people on the call were based. That’s the picture on the electronic tablet! It was great to see how widespread our callers were, and how much of the continent we speak from, including two participants from Canada: Ontario and Saskatoon, if I’m not mistaken.

    Where are you on that map? Is your state or region represented?

    Heartfelt thanks to the people who commented here so far: Rose, Wendy, Janice, and of course our team-mate and friend, Rita Burns Senseman. Your support and affirmation means a lot.

  7. Thanks Rita! I just updated the picture so that if you click on it, you can see the map. Give it a shoot!

  8. I’m so sorry I missed your recent meeting. Do you have me listed as the RCIA contact person for the Diocese of Trenton? If not, sign me up! I’m eager to work with you to find ways to support RCIA teams across the country. Forum will definitely be missed, but let’s not leave a vacuum. The work is too important!

  9. Hi JoLynn,

    I’ll make sure you are on the list. Thanks for being eager and willing to work with us. You are so right about the importance of this work. It’s great to have collaborators like you. Blessings on all you do to promote the vision.


  10. I’m on the Diocese of Charleston’s Catechetical Board and would like to be added to the list. Thank you. Donna

  11. I cannot express how happy I am
    to hear about this development. You
    are carrying on the great Spirit and I
    know you will be blessed.
    Prayers and support as you carry on the

  12. I just want to echo the thanks to and for Team RCIA for the kind of work that you are doing – and hope to do – with all of us who support and form the RCIA in our dioceses and parishes. Reviewing the points, a Spanish/bilingual component is essential, as is basic formation. Catechists, and for that matter, directors and clergy, come and go, leaving parishes to start over and over again. It’s one of the challenges, and in some cases, one of the reasons for hope! It will be interesting to see what topics develop and if our needs are similar.

  13. I, too, am delighted to hear of this wonderful new development. I can’t tell you how saddened we were to learn of the closing of the North American Forum. All eight members of my RCIA
    Team are Forum trained, including four new members who attended the last Beginnings Institute in Knoxville. The Diocese of Tulsa does not have an RCIA Director as such, but the director of the office of Divine Worship is Rev. Msgr. Patrick Brankin, 918-294-1904,ext. 4955. Email address is:

  14. Thank you for keeping the Spirit of RCIA alive. I look forward to your news, etc. The Holy Spirit is well and active. Blessings, Sr. Dianne, Saskatoon Canada

  15. Hi Dianne. Great to hear from you! Thanks for all your support and all the great work you do.


  16. Hi Peggy. Wow, it sounds like you have a very well-trained team! Thanks for all the great work you’ve done to make that happen. Blessings on your ministry.


  17. Hi Joanna. You make a great point about parishes having to start over and over again. I hope we can develop something that will help alleviate that difficulty a little. Thanks for your terrific comments and support.


  18. Hi Maureen. What a journey this has been! Thanks for all your important work with the Forum and all you have done to promote the vision. And thanks for your prayers and support.


  19. Thank you for continuing such an important ministry as a national RCIA voice. I enjoy the insights and thoughtfulness of our conversation. In thinking of this area we have much in common. Please keep the voice alive! Keep the need of the Hispanic community in RCIA growing.
    Blessings as we move forward.
    Sr. Celeste

  20. I am at the Nelson Diocasan office (British Columbia Canada) and would appreciate being part of discussions. We are a small diocese and our RCIA process is very weak–almost all are on a september to May process.

  21. Hello to all those who are involved with the TeamRCIA work! I am truly grateful for your continuing ministry and for being a resource for Initiation ministers. I know we will continue to keep in touch and look forward to being active in TeamRCIA .

    Thanks for your vision and efforts! Peace,

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