Six simple ways to improve your children’s RCIA process

4 thoughts on “Six simple ways to improve your children’s RCIA process”

  1. I have been raised Catholic and have been a practicing one for many years. I was flabergasted to find that the Church parades 7-year-olds in front of the congregation several times, forcing them to go through the same RCIA rituals as adults. Doesn’t the Church realize-after 2000 years-that little children ARE NOT ADULTS and become afraid and embarrassed under such circumstances? In addition, they are required to be confirmed long before they can make a true decision about the faith. Is there any way around this if a child wants to be baptised??

    1. Rita Burns Senseman

      Maureen, the Church does indeed say very specifically and directly that the children in the RCIA, “cannot yet be treated as adults because, at this stage in their lives they are dependent on their parents or guardians…” (see no. 252). And, in no. 253 that we must adapt the entire process, including the rites, in such a way as to be appropriate for children. Furthermore, the rite suggests in no. 257 that children might need to celebrate the rites with a “suitable number” of members from the congregation rather than the entire assembly. In addition, the RCIA gives rites that are specifically designed for children, see no. 260ff.
      With that said, in my twenty plus years of experience, I find that with proper preparation that most children are comfortable and in many cases, enjoy being part of the liturgical rites. I must also add that most people I talk to around the country agree that many children benefit from being with the Sunday assembly rather than in a small, more private celebration. When the children are surrounded by their parents, sponsors, and companions, as the rites call for, they feel loved and supported, rather then embarrassed or intimidated. For those children who may be overwhelmed by the rites, you can always have a small celebration, as no. 257 suggests.
      Regarding the issue of making a “true decision” about Confirmation. Again, the RCIA is quite clear that children “who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age” follow the pattern of the ordinary catechumenate. They are to be “capable of receiving and nurturing a personal faith” (nos. 252, 253). In other words, in the eyes of the Church the children are capable of a personal faith and thus capable of making the baptismal promises for themselves. However, this process of conversion (no. 253) takes an extended period of time, including adequate discernment, before the children receive baptism, confirmation and eucharist (see nos. 253, 304 and canons 852, 866).

  2. Hi Rita,
    These tips are helpful. It is not a clear cut process for us as we might have 1 or 2 kids from our school each year and 1 or two from the parish. All of different age ranges. I have found your book, “When your Child becomes Catholic” to be helpful when speaking with parents. Where can I get more? Thanks.

    1. Rita Burns Senseman

      Hi Aileen,The book is no longer in print, I am sorry to say. However, I have some copies I could send you. I’ll contact you via your email. Thanks,
      Rita

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