What kind of catechesis is suitable for RCIA seekers?

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8 thoughts on “What kind of catechesis is suitable for RCIA seekers?”

  1. Dick Birmingham

    You say that all who are validly baptized belong in the Postbaptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy category. I disagree. Many many people (even those already in our pews) have been validly baptized, but never evangelized. They don’t know the basics, the kerygma. They need to know who Christ is and appropriate to some degree into their life, the salvation Jesus has bought for them on the Cross.

  2. Hi Dick. Thanks for sharing you comment. As Diana pointed out in her post, there is both a ritual track and a catechetical track. On the ritual track, everyone who is validly baptized would, by definition, be in the stage of postbaptistmal catechesis. Their catechesis cannot be prebaptismal because they are already baptized.If we treat them as though the are unbaptized, we are denying the efficacy of God’s action at their baptism.

    However, on the catechetical track, there are three levels of catechesis. Some people who are baptized are still at either the level of primary proclamation or initiatory catechesis. Those who don’t know Jesus would be at the level of primary proclamation and those who know Jesus but don’t know the basics of living as a disciple would be at the level of initiatory catechesis.

  3. Edgar J. LeJeune

    I think there is an issue brought out by Dick Birmingham that is not adequately addressed. In our parish there is an issue of inadequate resources to have different classes for the unbaptised, those who have been baptised (but don’t know anything beyond the customs of their folks; some of which have no customs beyond having their kids baptised!), and the well versed non-Roman Catholic Christians. We have a common class for all and that is not working very well.
    Additionally, follow up after three to five weeks of Mystagogy is haphazard or entirely absent due to the same lack of resources.

  4. Hi Edgar. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Can you say more about what it is you would like to have addressed? I sympathize with not having enough resources. I’ve been there myself. But our lack of resources doesn’t change the the levels of catechesis required by people at different stages of faith development. We have to do the best we can with the resources we have while always striving toward a fuller implementation of each of the levels of catechesis.

  5. We’ve not tried to separate out all the groups, but we do run a two-track RCIA process.
    In the main track, we include the unbaptized (regardless of how formed they are), baptized Catholics who never received first communion, and baptized Christians of other denominations who are poorly formed or who have little connection to church.
    In the “almost Catholic” track (run 2-3 times per year, as candidates emerge), we include well formed baptized Christians (meaning they have a relationship with God, they have a prayer life, they regularly attend church on Sundays, and they value the Christian community life) to learn what is “different” about being Catholic. In this track, we cover Mary, Saints, Catholic view of scripture, Understanding of church hierarchy (who’s who) and church teaching authority, Purpose of sacraments, and then preparation for Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Eucharist. We usually meet for 5 or six sessions (depending on their backgrounds and interest), set up by meeting wizard. There is usually about a month between our last session for discernment, 1st confession, and an interview to see if there are any other issues, and then we receive them at a Sunday mass.
    Last, I handle Catholics who need confirmation only separately on a one-on-one basis.
    .

  6. Thank you for this article, Diana. This idea of identifying and separating these two tracks (the “ritual” and the “catechetical”) I found most helpful. This is something we’ve been developing in our parish’s process, but we’ve never had the words to describe it as well as you have. The RCIA (the ritual) is really a sub-set in the overall mission of Adult Faith Formation (the catechetical). In fact, I sometimes wonder if we’re not doing ourselves a disservice by calling what we do the RCIA, because in actuality, the Rites are only part of what we do for a subset of our seekers. In fact, we’re actually working on a “re-branding” initiative to better reach out to those who are seeking, because let’s be honest, very few know what the “RCIA” is unless you’re in the ministry.

    And for those who think it’s too difficult or don’t have the resources to separate seekers into their respective groups, I would suggest looking at your process and how you structure your sessions. Start with the Liturgy of the Word. Celebrate and unpack the Word for the week with the entire group, then, as needed, separate the different groups of seekers into smaller sessions to focus on their individual needs. Not only does it help to serve the different individual needs, it’s the key to developing a year-round process. Let the Word be your guide.

    1. Diana Macalintal

      Hi, John! That’s a great idea on how to use your limited resources while honoring the various needs of each seeker. Yes! Let the Word be our guide. And I really appreciate your insight on “re-branding” what we do as bigger than just the RCIA. That simple shift in perspective I think gives us a clearer sense of how to make our RCIA process *and* our adult faith formation initiatives more effective.

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