The best time to start an RCIA team is now.
The best time to start dismissing catechumens from Mass is this Sunday.
The best time implement a year-round process is today.
The best time to recruit sponsors is right away.
The best time to move out of the classroom and into an apprenticeship model is whenever the next event is scheduled on your parish calendar.
Every change or improvement that we want to make to our initiation processes has to have a start date. The thing that stops most of us from making a change is waiting for a better time. The truth is, there is no better time. I know of teams that have been waiting for ten years or more for the right time to start a year-round process. They are waiting for the right team members, for the parish to be ready for it, for the right pastor, for catechumens who will show up. In the meantime, they continue to use half measures that they know are ineffective and do not instill lasting conversion in the seekers.
Tomorrow is never better than today
No matter what roadblocks or difficulties your team is facing, there is only one time that is worse than starting today. That’s tomorrow. If you wait until tomorrow, you’ve lost one more, unrecoverable day during which you could have been creating an effective conversion process.
Someone asked me recently how to get started with an apprenticeship process that meaningfully involves the parishioners in the initiation process. I assume the questioner was looking for a plan and an appropriate time to start. A plan can be helpful. But waiting for the right plan can also be a roadblock.
A plan for RCIA can be helpful. But waiting for the right plan can also be a roadblock.
For example, the week I got that question, I was travelling and went to Mass at a parish near where I was staying. The parish happened to be hosting a free pancake breakfast that Sunday. After Mass, I heard one parishioner ask another if she was coming to the breakfast. No, replied the second parishioner. She had to go teach RCIA.
Three alternative ways to start
Okay, let’s just stop here for a minute. There are three opportunities in that brief exchange that could have gone differently to start involving parishioners in the initiation process.
The second parishioner—the RCIA team member—could have said, “Yes, I think I will. I was supposed to teach RCIA this morning, but it would be better to bring the catechumens over to breakfast to meet some parishioners.”
Or, the team member could have said, “You know, I was supposed to teach RCIA today, and the topic was supposed to be about Advent. But now, I’m thinking of bringing the group over for breakfast. Would you be okay if one of the catechumens sat with your family? Maybe you could tell him a little about how your family prepares for Christmas.”
And for super bonus points, the team member could have turned to me and said, “I don’t think we’ve met. Are you new here? Would you like to join me and my friend for breakfast?”
None of that happened, of course. That parish is waiting until next week, or next month, or next year, or possibly the next decade to implement a plan for involving parishioners. But what might have happened if that team member simply started on that day, at that opportune moment?
Today is the day. I promise, you won’t find a more acceptable time.
What are your thoughts?
Have you taken an opportunity to start something new recently? Can you start something new today? Please share your thoughts below.