How I discovered the RCIA is the Grand Prix of catechesis

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7 thoughts on “How I discovered the RCIA is the Grand Prix of catechesis”

  1. Carmel Ann Sperti, D.Min.

    Yes!

    This is the best short, practical article on RCIA I’ve seen in ages. It really elevates the question “What have we initiated our neophytes into?” In order to have a thriving, effective (not just affective)RCIA process, we need to integrate our catechumens and Elect into the active life of the Church: liturgy,life in the marketplace and apostolic vision and activity. These are the pillars of who we are as Church and what we need to pass on.

    For too many years, for myriads of reasons I won’t address here, we have pigeon-holed catechesis into a ministry of information, rather than an apprenticeship into the fullness of Christian life. The RCIA document challenges us to embrace a massive paradigm shift, particularly in the United States, where we skew our educational ministry almost exclusively toward filling children with information, rather than adults with formation. We need to get the whole Church involved as an assembly that initiates, supports, reaches out and underpins its lived reality with liturgical praise. We need to abandon the “convert” mentality in favor of an apostolic and liturgical reality.

    Thomas Morris and other visionary writers have been telling us that Initiation process can transform the Church; we need to animate this idea and make it happen with the kind of catechesis that is, indeed, the RACE.

    1. Thanks for your comments Carmel Ann! You make a great point about how we have pigeon-holed catechesis into a ministry of information. Thanks for all you are doing to promote the vision.

      –Nick

  2. I work in campus ministry, which is necessarily time-limited. We don’t even get to share most of the Christmas season due to winter break. The school year usually ends before Pentecost. Some of our neophytes and newly Confirmed are still around in the fall, but many just disappear.

    Do you have any suggestions about how to get neophytes and the newly Confirmed engaged when you *know* you will lose them over the summer?

    1. Hi, Lindsay. The best strategy in working with a campus ministry schedule is to work together with the catechumen’s and neophyte’s home parish and to keep them connected to the Church and the initiation process when they’re away from the campus. If they don’t have a home parish, then you might contact the diocesan director for the RCIA, liturgy, or catechesis in their home diocese to get some recommendations for parishes near the catechumen or neophyte where he or she can continue to be nourished and even celebrate some of the rites when they occur outside of the campus academic schedule.

      Another strategy is to make sure that everyone on your campus ministry team understands and uses language that does not imply a school-year time frame (e.g., “RCIA is going on break for the summer…”) and that their formation is not just something they do when the campus is in session, but that it’s a lifetime discipline they’re training for. You might indeed be taking a break in formal sessions and gatherings, but you and your sponsors should still be connecting with their catechumens. (See the article link below for more ideas on keeping this connection over the school breaks.)

      For neophytes who may be graduating, you might take a cue from your campus alumni association and continue to keep in contact with neophytes from previous years. You might even schedule an annual “homecoming” or reunion of neophytes during the campus alumni weekends.

      It’s also good to make sure that the RCIA team and staff in the campus ministry help catechumens and neophytes understand they are joining a worldwide Church and not a small group within the campus ministry. This can be difficult in a college campus ministry when students are trying to find their own way and create community for the time on their own away from their families and friends back home. It can be so easy to become a clique disconnected from the wider community. But connecting with parish communities where the students live when they’re away from campus and also working closely with the campus’ diocesan connections and local parishes will help integrate catechumens and neophytes into the broader Church beyond the local campus community.

      I wrote more about RCIA in a campus ministry setting here:
      https://teamrcia.com/2008/05/23/year-round-rcia-on-campus/

      Working on a campus does have its challenges when you’re doing the RCIA, but often, the solutions simply require a paradigm shift in the way we talk about and view what we are doing and seeing it as the work of the entire Church and not just our own RCIA team.

      Good luck! Ministry on campus is a great blessing and joy!
      Diana

  3. RCIA is a process. However, it is much more it is evangilization to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. That is the bottom line. ; )

  4. Elaine Ouellette

    Diane, I would have to diddo everything that you have said here in the above statement. We are working at present with one person who is away at college, he is participating in the program on campus but has gone through the Rite of Acceptance and our Discernment retreat here at the parish. He will be present for the Scrutinies on campus, but will receive his Sacraments of Initiation here at the parish Easter Vigil. It has been a wonderful experience for him as well.

  5. Elaine, that sounds great! I’ve only had experience from the campus ministry side, so it’s good to hear about the same experience from the parish’s side.

    Diana

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