Six steps toward a richer RCIA process

RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) image posted by TeamRCIASummer is over. Well, not officially, but Labor Day has passed and school is in full swing for the new academic year. Many “RCIA programs” have begun “again.” Perhaps this is true for your parish. You’ve been working hard to get ready by having team meetings and going over your plans for the next few months. You know that an ongoing catechumenate is what the Rite calls for, but you haven’t been able to make the switch yet, so with another autumn, another program begins.

How do you break the cycle? How do you persuade pastor, team, assembly, sponsors, and even yourself that it is time to do things differently in order to provide the most effective catechumenate experience for the inquirers at your door? My advice? Take a deep breath. Go ahead with your plans. You are doing good things already. Don’t worry.

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RCIA image: Word & Worship Workbook for Year C: For Ministry in Initiation, Preaching, Religious Education and Formation by Mary Birmingham Word & Worship Workbook for Year C: For Ministry in Initiation, Preaching, Religious Education and Formation

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And then, follow these simple steps:

  1. Know paragraph 42 of the RCIA well. Before one is ready to celebrate the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, the elements listed in RCIA 42 should be alive and well in the life of that person.
  2. Understand that not everyone will be ready for the rite at the same time, even if they “begin” the inquiry period together.
  3. Know Part II.V well. Not everyone needs the catechumenate process or even a similar formation before being received into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
  4. Understand that not everyone who wants to be Catholic needs the same formation process.
  5. Welcome inquirers and candidates whenever they come. Listen to their stories.
  6. Repeat steps 1 -4 and determine the appropriate response to each individual.

With these six steps you will discover that you are well on your way to an ongoing catechumenate. It’s easy. It’s natural. It’s pastoral. It’s the beginning of full and faithful implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

And it’s not such a big deal after all!

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  1. That’s a great post, Miriam. You make it sound so simple. Maybe because it is! Moving to an ongoing process seems more about changing little things than doing a complete makeover of what you’re already doing. That’s good encouragement for many communities.

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