Pope Francis’s message to RCIA teams: Avanti!

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIAAvanti! That’s what Pope Francis says over and over again. Go forth! For Pope Francis, there is only one image of the church that is life-giving — a church that goes forth, that goes out of itself, into the streets. Pope Francis wants us to be a church that goes to the peripheries.

This is a crucial point for RCIA teams. Too often, we stay inside the church and wait for someone to knock on the door. But Pope Francis says that when we do that, we might actually be keeping Jesus inside the church.

In Revelation, Jesus says that he is at the door and knocks. Obviously, the text refers to his knocking from the outside in order to enter, but I think about the times in which Jesus knocks from within so that we will let him come out. (Pre-conclave address to the General Congregation meetings of the Cardinals)

How do we do that? How do we let Jesus out? Where are the peripheries? How do we get there?

The peripheries are those places where people are marginalized and forgotten. They are the places where people lack hope and joy. Pope Francis said:

Each one of us can think of persons who live without hope and are immersed in a profound sadness that they try to escape by thinking they can find happiness in alcohol, drugs, gambling, the power of money, promiscuity. We who have the joy of knowing that we are not orphans, that we have a father, cannot be indifferent to those yearning for love and for hope. With your witness, with your smile, you need to let others know that the same Father loves them, too. (Address to parish leaders from the Diocese of Rome, June 18, 2013)

In a previous article, we looked at some of the ways we try to “go forth” using our Sunday bulletin. There will be some witnesses and invitations we can share in the bulletin that may be helpful. (Click here to see some examples and to share your own.)

But we also have to think of witnesses and invitations that go beyond the walls of the church. Below, I’ve created five examples of invitations we might make to people who might be seeking a deeper spirituality in their lives. Some might be “inside” the church, and most are “outside.” I wrote invitations for:

  • Spiritual-but-not-religious people
  • Newly divorced people
  • Seriously ill people
  • Grieving people
  • Newly engaged couples

I also tied most of these messages into the holiday season, but they can be easily adapted to other times of the year.

>>> Click image for a free infographic: “How to Teach Jesus” <<<


Discover how to be a “Good Samaritan” this holiday season without being a religious bore. Drop in on our no-strings-attached discussion group, and learn about a few universal spiritual practices that have guided Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Pope Francis. Find out how you can put these practices to use in your life to have truly happy holidays. We meet every Tuesday at 7 pm in the back room of the Melting Pot Grill. Text xxx-xxx-xxxx if you need directions or a ride.

Newly divorced

The holidays are tough for divorced people. But this can also be a time to find hope and even joy. Come gather with several other seekers who want to live a spiritual life but aren’t finding the support they need in traditional religious settings. A separation from a marriage partner doesn’t have to mean separation from God. Choose a path that will lead you to a deep peace and profound joy. We meet every Wednesday at 7 pm in the Pacific Room of the Riverside Community Center. Click here for a Google map or e-mail jim.thompson@xxxmail.com for directions.

Seriously ill

We want to pray with you for healing and strength this holiday season. At our weekly gathering, we share ideas for remaining hopeful, finding peace, resolving fear, and managing stress. Come share your life experience and wisdom, and hear from others who share what you are going through. Every evening includes a time of prayer and quiet meditation. We usually start around 7 pm on Thursdays in the Sullivan Center Chapel. Just drop in or call or e-mail Jenny Alvarez for more information. 555-555-5555 jalvarez@stxxxx.org


Come struggle with others to get through the holidays without your loved one. This gathering is a safe place to cry, grieve, talk, doubt, and lament. Some of us believe God comforts us in our grief, and others of us are angry that God failed us. Come as you are, share if you wish, or just sit with others who are also in pain. We will meet at 7 pm every Monday of November and December. Come to the O’Malley Center main door (51st and Maple), and follow the signs. Or call or e-mail Virginia Nguyen for more information. 444-444-4444 nguyen7832@yyyyglobal.net

Newly engaged

Congratulations on your engagement! My name is Deacon Ron Jones, and I’d like to invite you to a series of three open-ended discussions with other newly engaged couples. Usually we discuss things like:

  • Do I have to be Catholic to get married here?
  • What if my partner is more religious than I am?
  • Do we fight too much?
  • What if I don’t fit in with my partner’s family?
  • How do we stay passionate for each other for life?

But that’s just a sample. Really, we talk about whatever is on your mind as you prepare for your marriage. We are going to schedule times and dates for these three meetings based on your availability. Click here to let me know when you are free, and I’ll get back to you with details.  [INSERT LINK TO http://doodle.com/]

Your challenge

So here is a challenge for you. Come up with another type of person who is on the peripheries, and write an invitation for him her. Just type it into the comments box below. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

See also these related articles:
  1. Four ways to attract more seekers using social media
  2. Common sense ideas for attracting millennials to your parish
  3. This little light of mine — how to let it shine
  4. The simple truth about getting more RCIA inquirers
  5. How to feed 5,000 on a Tuesday in Advent

“The man who could walk through walls” by Neal Sanche | Flickr


  1. Coping when a loved one or sometimes loved ones are in prison.

    Come let us share! We want to pray together and for each other. Let us pray about our anger, guilt, feelings of isolation, abandonment, grief and betrayal. We believe that Christ could be discovered as King in the midst of all of this …..

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