How effective is the RCIA?

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5 thoughts on “How effective is the RCIA?”

  1. We are looking for ways to increase our team size so we can go all year round. The above books look like they might help with that.
    Follow you on Twitter, Love the website & thanks for the help.

  2. I really enjoyed your comments on St. Mark’s parish. Each year, I evaluate the shape of the RCIA at Sacred Heart and although I can point to positive movement in the right direction, I feel so overwhelmed.
    I wonder if everyone has the same problem that we have at Sacred Heart- lack of interest or involvement by parishioners and priests? I have tried to make regular pulpit announcements, weekly updates in the bulletin and personal invitation, but I am at a loss for how to draw parishioners (or the priests) into this process. The Inquirers, Catechumens and Candidates WANT so much to become a part of the community. I can’t even get anyone to invite them to their home for dinner! They attend parish potlucks and other community events, but even if I drag parishioners over to them who have some similarities (age, interests etc) they politely say hello and walk away!
    Ok, now I’m just complaining. I know that there have been a lot of improvements in the past three years but I want more!
    Thanks for listening!

  3. Michele, thanks for your comments, which I bet a lot of people could identify with. It can be a huge challenge, and you are not alone.

    The two aspects of the challenge that I hear in your story are related: #1 the priests need to be drawn in more, and #2 the parishioners need to be more welcoming.

    The priests set the tone for the parish, and welcoming and hospitality need to be modeled and valued by them. Talk to your priests. Ask them to preach on hospitality. Seek their help in building an evangelizing parish. Ask them to speak about how initiation is the ministry of all the baptized. Invite them to a session to listen to the stories, not just to teach. And then pray that a spark gets ignited.

    With regard to the people of your parish, it sounds like this is just unfamiliar territory for them. Since your process has been going for three years, perhaps the people who were part of it in years past would be your most natural allies. A personal touch could remind them to reach out to the newcomers, and perhaps to share their own story.

    Second, see if there are structures in the parish that will work for you. For example, church societies and parish groups can be enlisted to pray for people by name. Then, when they meet them, it’s “Oh, yes, I’ve been praying for you!” Sometimes groups of children in catechetical programs will prepare cards or messages of welcome for newcomers. Talk to your Director of Religious Ed. When children learn something, their parents will probably hear about it too. It can be an ice-breaker. Every little bit helps.

    Finally, relax and realize it’s not all up to you. It takes time to develop a culture of welcome in a parish. As you know!

    Any other good ideas for Michele out there? Send them in. God bless your efforts, Michele!

    Rita

  4. Hi Jason,

    Good to hear that you are planning to develop your team. I once talked with a parish catechumenate director at a large parish that had more than 20 people on the RCIA team. I asked him “How did you do that?”

    He said “Delegate, delegate, delegate. I make sure they understand the big picture and then I put people in charge of specific things. Often they don’t do it the way I would do it, but that’s OK. The main thing is that they own it.”

    I think there is wisdom in this approach. When you are enlarging your team, keep in mind too that you’ll need many different gifts; it’s not limited to catechists. Get a communications coordinator. Find somebody to oversee the apostolic works component. Get somebody to coordinate sponsors. And so on. Good luck to you!

    Rita

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