If you want to move to a year-round catechumenate but you think it will be too much work or you don’t know where to start, start with baby steps. You don’t have to do everything all at once. For example, I was at Mass at a parish outside my diocese on a July Sunday. At the end of Mass, during the announcements, the presider said something like this:
If you or someone you know is curious about becoming Catholic, I’d like to invite you to come explore your questions. We are currently forming an inquiry group to discuss and answer any questions you might have about what Catholics are all about. It’s a very informal group, and there is no obligation. If you’d like to join us, I’ll be in the back after Mass, and I can tell you more about it.
A lot is happening in this RCIA announcement
This short, simple announcement does a lot of things. It tells seekers that you want to connect with them. It keeps things casual and assures the seekers they don’t have to sign up or register or go through a lot of hoops just to find out if they might want to become Catholic. It solves the problem of telling seekers they have to come back in September “when RCIA starts.” And it alerts the regular parishioners that the parish is actively seeking new members. And notice that they never used the term “RCIA”!
I don’t know what the meetings are like in the parish I visited or how often during the summer they occur. But I do know that you don’t have to do something every week. You can have an effective inquiry process with as few as one meeting a month over the summer. That’s three meetings. The most work you have to do to prepare is put on a pot of coffee.
One more step
Well, there is one more thing you have to do. You have to be prepared to share your own faith story. We should be always be ready to do that anyway, so it really isn’t extra preparation. But I find that lots of Catholics, even active RCIA team members, have a difficult time saying why they believe what they believe. We tend to get bogged down in Catholic jargon that often doesn’t make sense to seekers. I would encourage you to spend some time in prayer and think about when your faith was most tested. Also think about when your faith saved you. Think about where you might be today if you didn’t have faith. Write down some thoughts about that, and see if you can come up with a one to two minute story that is unique to you about why you believe what you believe.
Then, during your inquiry meetings, answer all the questions the seekers have as best you can. If there is something you can’t answer, promise to find out and get back to the seeker with an answer. And finally, if no one asks you why you are a Catholic, ask them if they would like to know. Then share your story.
Share your thoughts
What is your experience? Do you have inquiry meetings over the summer? How have they worked for you? Or, if you haven’t done anything over the summer, what first step do you imagine your parish could take to begin?
See also these related articles:
- How to make parish renewal a byproduct of RCIA
- Your first small step toward a year-round RCIA process
- RCIA: Learn why year-round is easier
- The benefits and challenges of a year-round RCIA process
- Four easy ways to start a year-round RCIA process
“another wave!” by Angela Sevin | Flickr