Last week, I met with a group of RCIA team members from parishes around the country at the Convocation of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate to discuss the question, “Whose ministry is it, anyway?”
Aware that in so many situations, the RCIA process is “run” by a team of willing volunteers, we examined the Rite to discover there any wisdom the Rite could offer the team. NONE! In fact, the Rite never mentions a parish RCIA team. So, whose ministry is it, anyway?
Even a cursory glance through the ritual text makes it clear that the work of initiation is the responsibility of all the baptized. Over and over, the community is named as the primary minister of initiation and all the catechesis, liturgy and apostolic witness that is essential to the formation of catechumens and candidates (see RCIA 75) is situated in the midst of the believing, praying and serving parish community.
We probed for a deeper understanding of what this really means by asking some radical questions and opening our imaginations:
- Imagine a parish where everyone answers the question, “What is your ministry?” with the response, “Christian Initiation, of course!”
- Imagine a parish where the response to the question, “Who is on your RCIA team” is “Everyone in the parish, of course!”
- Imagine a parish where the response to the question, “How many people do you have on your catechumenate team is “Over 5000 families.”
- Imagine a parish where the answer to “Where does your RCIA team meet?” is “Every Sunday at our parish liturgies.”
- Imagine a parish where the answer to “When does your team meet?” is “We don’t have a team; we have a fully conscious, active, participative initiating assembly.”
The energy released in our conversation about these questions moved us beyond the usual suggestions for involving the parish community (e.g. bulletin announcements, coffee and donuts, photos in the vestibule, etc.) to a much deeper understanding of the role of the assembly.
In a follow-up article I will share with you the paragraphs of the Rite that informed our imagining. I will offer some further reflection on how those of us who are committed to the full implementation of the Rite in our parishes might move beyond the familiar to some “beyond” kind of thinking.
For now, imagine a parish where every so often the pastor introduces an inquirer to the worshiping assembly saying, “This is Jose; this is Barbara. They have a desire to become part of our church.” Then he simply leaves the rest to the people in the pews. What would that be like? Click on the comments link and offer your thoughts.
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