This past weekend, I participated in an exciting two-day intensive in Houston, Texas. Two hundred RCIA leaders—including my mother!—gathered at St. Anne’s Catholic Community to discuss how the catechumenate can be a model for all faith formation.
The event flowed flawlessly from beginning to end. That’s thanks to organizational rock star Sandy Higgins, who is the associate director for the office of worship. Sandy is one of those people who makes events like this look so easy you might be tempted to think anybody can do it. But that is all part of her skill at working so hard ahead of time and behind the scenes that she puts everyone else at ease.
We began our time together by reviewing the six principles of the RCIA and writing down three things each person needed to learn over the two days in order to implement those principles. Everyone then reorganized into small groups based on their learning needs. Each small group drew a poster-sized picture that told a story about what they intended to learn during the event. We displayed their artworks on the walls around us, and they served as visual reminders of our path for the two days.
What we focused on was how the catechumenate model is an apprenticeship model and how apprenticeship works. We worked a lot with discovering all the ways in the parish in which we encounter the Risen Christ and how to unpack that experience with a mystagogical process. We used the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus as a framework for exploring that mystagogical process. Our hope was that we could learn to teach in the same way Jesus taught the Emmaus disciples.
David Wood, the director of the worship office, was also with us for most of the event. He did sneak off on Friday to celebrate his wedding anniversary! Both he and his wife Sylvia returned the next day, however, ready to dive into the work at hand.
We also had a chance to have coffee and conversation with Linda Krehmeier, former chair of the board for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Linda has worked in diocesan offices for most of the time I’ve known her. However, she recently moved back to Texas, her home state, to take a pastoral associate position at St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church in Spring, Texas. The folks in the Houston area are blessed to have her among them, and we were blessed with her contributions during the intensive.
TeamRCIA cofounder Diana Macalintal also made a guest appearance on her way back from the NPM convention in Washington, DC. Diana got the room rocking with her musical version of the six principles of the RCIA, including choreography!
The highlight of the event for me was that I felt much more like a colleague than a “presenter.” Everyone brought their gifts to the table, and we had some stimulating conversations about both how to implement the catechumenate effectively and how to use the principles of the catechumenate to shape all types of faith formation in a parish.
The very last thing we did was to gather as parish teams and create SMART goals to take home to each parish. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You can create SMART goals for your own RCIA process. Just think of something you really want to accomplish this year, and then try to line it up with each of the five SMART criteria. Wikipedia has a longer explanation of using SMART goals. I also wrote an article on goal-setting that might interest you.