If you look in the TeamRCIA glossary, you’ll see that one of the terms listed there is “RCIC.” I debated about whether to include it, because there is no such thing. Still, a lot of people use the term, so practicality won out over precision.
If your parish has an “RCIC,” I mean no offense. And you probably have a wonderful process for children that converts them to deep faith in Christ. But one thing no parish has is a Rite of Christian Initiation of Children. Because there is no such rite.
Using “RCIA” and “RCIC” miscatechizes that there are two processes
Of course, I think most parishes know this. But they are looking for a way to distinguish between the adult group and the children’s group. I suppose they don’t want the adults to think they’ll have to do faith sharing with a group of seven-year-olds and vice versa. And that is part of the problem with having two separate names for the initiation rites. It catechizes that there are two separate processes. Having “two rites” or two names teaches that what the children are doing is somehow different than what the adults are doing. It isn’t.
Take a look at your copy of the RCIA and open to paragraph 1. It tells you right there who this rite is for and what it is supposed to do:
The rite of Christian initiation presented here is designed for adults who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion ….
Well, right there, someone might say, it says this is all about adults. No children mentioned. So can we please get back to the RCIC?
Unfortunately, I don’t see how. There is no RCIC to turn to. There is no text, no rite, no ritual that says, “The rite of Christian initiation presented here is designed for children….” There is only the RCIA.
But how can that be? Doesn’t the church care about the initiation of children?
Of course it does. When we think of children, however, we have to think of two kinds. There are infants. And then all the others. When does a child stop being an infant? For the purpose of sacraments, the church says anyone who has not reached the age of reason is an infant. So, approximately, anyone below first-communion-age is an infant. Anyone first-communion-age and above is…an adult.
Intimacy with Christ is the key
Okay, they’re not really adults yet. But they aren’t infants either. Children who are able to reasonably tell the difference between right and wrong, who can form an intimate relationship with Jesus, who can tell the difference between bread and wine and the body and blood of Christ—these are children who are “old enough” to participate in the adult rites of the church. It’s like when you get to sit at the big table. You might need a couple of phone books to boost you up, but you can use a knife and fork and probably not spill your milk.
So does the church have a “booster seat” for kid catechumens? Yes it does. Flip further back into the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults to paragraph 252.
This form of the rite of Christian initiation is intended for children, not baptized as infants, who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age.
This is a form of the RCIA, not a separate rite. You’ll see that a lot of adaptations are made to accommodate the little ones, but the underlying requirement is the same. They must convert their lives to Christ. If they are not mature enough to make that commitment, they are still “infants.”
One important thing to note about these adaptations is they are all optional. It is perfectly fine to use with children all the rites that you would use with adults. In fact, that’s the way I’ve always initiated children, because I don’t find the children’s adaptations to be very strong either ritually or catechetically.
However, whether you use the adaptations for children in the RCIA or you use the unmodified version of the rites, both are forms of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. There is no RCIC.
See also these related articles:
8 thoughts on “Why we need to stop RCIC”
Nick, thanks for the great article! Here’s the acronym for my diocese: CICCA, pronounced “chicka”, and stands for Christian Initiation for Children of Catechetical Age. While I’ve asked it be no longer used, it’s taking a while to disappear. I will share your humorous approach.
Hi Catherine. I’ve also seen RCIYP (“young people”), which always made me wonder if there should be an RCIOP (“old people”).
Thank You! Thank You! Thank You! I have been noticing this term used by many parishes within many dioceses. Recently I had a conversation with someone and reiterated some of the same things you mentioned above. Thanks for making more of us aware of this.
Hi Barbara. You’re welcome! You’re welcome! You’re welcome! I’m glad it was helpful. Spread the word.
Amen brother! The RCIA adapted for children is never a process just for the children, but rather for the family. Parents/guardians need the catechesis as well and that becomes a further argument not to water down the adaptions too much.
In my parish, I advertise and call it: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (as adapted for children) and RCIA (as adapted for youth).
I hold a separate session for youth grades 7-12 at the same time as Religious Education and the youth attend all the Rites and dismissal with adults. Children grades 2-6 attend RE Sessions with their grade level, and the children also attend all the rites with the adults and youth. I also offer required family sessions to additionally catechize the parents or guardians of the children and youth. The children do attend a separate dismissal session at Mass that is more geared to their ages. Rites are offered at both the English and Spanish Masses and dismissal sessions are rotated between different English Masses from week to week. This way, the catechumens witness to the entire parish that RCIA is for all! It’s working so far, even though it’s a lot of organizing and planning!
Hi Michele. I think your emphasis on working with the entire family is terrific! Thanks for all the hard work you put into this ministry.
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