Why you should stop trying to solve the mystagogy problem

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14 thoughts on “Why you should stop trying to solve the mystagogy problem”

  1. We also struggle with mystagogy, but until this year we have not had someone who could devote themselves to the program but this year we have a Brother who is in charge of it. That said, we do have a great retention in people staying in the Church and actually participating in different ministries even if they have to form the ministry themselves. Our secret is all you have mentioned. Our program is the whole year starting right after Easter. While we do teach the teachings of the Church each meeting starts out with God moments and them some time discussing Sunday’s gospel which includes the homily. Yes we make it clear that they are to go to Church every Sunday. We have an awesome overnight retreat that makes the group bond even more than just meeting once a week. But we also have the parish involved. After the Easter Vigil, we have the newly Catholics (both the neophytes and the others) write about how RCIA and coming into the Church has changed their lives and it is put into the bulletin with their picture. But the Church knows these people because starting in Lent we have a poster at the entrance to the Church saying please pray for these people as the come to enter the Church at the Easter Vigil and we have their picture with name on the poster. It works as many of the Elect and candidates tell me how different people in the parish have approached them to encourage and welcome them.

  2. “In the RCIA, the period of mystagogy is all about Sunday Mass”

    I used to teach RCIA back around 1999-2002 with my wife. We had no trouble getting both Catholics and neophytes back into class after Easter Sunday. I think one reason is that we did not consider Easter a demarcation point in the learning process. Every class had a “see ya next week, read the handout and be ready to discuss” attitude, including the last class before the Vigil. Our pitch: ok y’all become Catholic next week, getchaself fired up by the Holy Spirit and tell us about it next class.” And we never used the word “mystagogy.” I mean, I love NT Greek and teach some to 6th graders now, but even I find that particular term (along with kerygma) unlovely and alienating.

  3. We continue mystagogy sessions after Easter which concludes with a final dinner party several weeks after Easter at which they receive their sacramental certificate.
    This year we will also be starting a “support group” for RCIA “graduates” that we are calling an academy – we will cover many of the same topics we did in RCIA but expand on those topics. In the past we’ve had people who wanted to become team members because they did not want to leave the “safety” of our sessions and our group. They do not need to be team members so we had to come up with an alternative.

  4. The title of the article is terrible. Call it vexing, puzzling but no wicked. Christian’s suggestions are great. So are Bernadette’s. Sally’s ideas are great also. Need to involve the parish in the process. Need an adult faith formation group in the parish, the neophytes would join that. Need to have active involvement with parish activities during the RCIA process, go to adoration, go visit a homebound person with the Eucharist, go to a St. Vincent de Paul activity, etc. Involve, Involve, Involve during RCIA.

  5. Our RCIA core team has incorporated some elements in the program that hopefully will bear fruit after the Easter Vigil. First of all, we required sponsors to attend some of the classes throughout the year and encouraged their input in group sharing of topics. We were lucky this year to have both catechumens and candidates who became a community and who grew very comfortable with one another. We had an awesome retreat day for them, and asked the sponsors to bring lunch in that day. We are planning some service projects for them as a group during mystagogy (such as serving at homeless shelters, visiting a prison, going to visit at convalescent homes). We held Bible seminars for them and encouraged their participation in parish events so that parishioners can meet them. Since we do have quite a few adults seeking confirmation only, we have a separate faith formation program for those people. Pentecost is the last day of the RCIA program for them, so we are planning a BBQ sendoff at one of the team member’s house.

  6. Our RCIA program implemented a post-RCIA team of two last year. They were sponsors during the year as well so they got to know the candidates and catechumens. They are liaisons between RCIA and adult-education. They invite our neophytes to the adult-ed programs and also help them connect to the various commissions that serve the church and community. Last year’s neophytes were asked to specifically pray during lent for this year’s neophytes.
    During our RCIA year, we blend study with conversion as the year progresses. During Lent, we have an evening retreat and an evening of Stations of the Cross. RCIA is always challenging in the fact that you have a classroom of people in various degrees of faith. It is akin to a one room schoolhouse but faith is a journey for all of us and we always learn from one another.

  7. We had the best participation in the mystagogia in my 25 years of work in the RCIA. I believe one key factor was that this year, at my first inquiry session, I talked about how important it is that we look for the “God moments” in our lives. I could hardly believe the depth of sharing at the second session, something that usually took at least a month to six weeks before people started sharing about how God was being revealed to them in their daily experiences. The other factor was strong godparents and sponsors.Seven out of the eight people chose friends who were strong Catholics in our parish. We had no dismissal rites this year because the only catechumen had been coming to Mass every Sunday with his wife and children over the past eleven years, and so we discerned that he did not need the dismissal rite.
    The six neophytes and their sponsors participated in every mystagogia session until Pentecost, and the following week we ended with a picnic! The looking for “God moments” is now spreading to our 50 homebound to help lift their spirits. It has truly been a blessed year as I now move into being liturgist at our motherhouse. Hopefully in a year or two I can get back into RCIA ministry in our parish. Thanks, Nick and Diana, for the countless things I have learned from you! I plan to stay connected with your website. Peace!

    1. Wow, it sounds wonderful Celeste! Great job. You really are a blessing to these folks.

      —Nick

  8. I really enjoyed this particular article. As one that went through the RCIA process last year, and sponsored thie past year, I feel that the RCIA process does not help create a greater awareness of mystagogy throughout the entire process. It almost feels, at times, that there is a process, and if we can just get them through the process we can figure out who is going to be active or not. While I know that I wanted to be active from the start, I don’t see that many of those who went through the process active at all, and it leads me to wonder how we can help instill an understanding of what all each person can do within the Church. While the focus during mystagogy is about helping during the liturgy, I also believe that there are those who can help with those outside ministries that help create a better sense of community involvement from the parish, or even the Diocese. I find it increasingly more important that we are instilling this into those who are younger and getting into the Church, either as children or as young adults.

    Thank you for this blog post. It has helped me to create some ideas that I plan on bringing to the adult faith formation director of my parish.

    God Bless,

    -Nick Pearson

    1. Thanks for your comment Nick! I’m so glad the post was helpful for you. Keep up the great work.

      –Nick

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