Six Keys to Catechesis for Baptized Candidates

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6 thoughts on “Six Keys to Catechesis for Baptized Candidates”

  1. Nick,
    Question about the following wording:

    Strictly speaking, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is not for the baptized candidates. As the name of the rite tells us, this is a process of initiation. Those who are baptized are already initiated, and any catechesis we provide for them is post-initiation or post-baptismal catechesis. If that’s true, then, why do so many baptized people wind up in our RCIA processes?

    BUT, if one is only baptized that person is not “fully initiated”.
    They still need Holy Communion and Confirmation.
    I think that is part of the rationale of having them participate with much of the regular RCIA program.
    I admit, however, that there is that need of working with people where they are … church-goers vs baptized at birth and virtually no church experience.

    In our Detroit parish, Corpus Christi, we usually have small numbers of people wishing to become Catholic … annually about two to four people. They are almost always Christians of other denominations with a variety of church-going experiences.

  2. Hi Dcn Paul. Most of the Protestants who wind up in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults are not seeking initiation into Christianity. They are seeking reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church. Because most of our parishes do not have a formation process dedicated to seekers with that need, we end up putting them in the formation process for catechumens (RCIA). However, the U.S. Bishops have written that this is not the appropriate place for them. See paragraphs 30-31 of the National Statutes for the Catechumenate.

    Also, this article may be helpful: https://teamrcia.com/2016/05/should-we-stop-calling-ourselves-rcia-teams/

  3. Great article. Your list of reasons why the Baptized are treated like Catechumens are, from my experience, spot-on! And your point at the conclusion (“we can all accompany each other on the journey of faith”) is the way forward for many parishes that lack the resources to develop a separate process for each group.

    First is a general change in mind-set. We need to step away from the methods of “teaching” Catholicism (with a set curriculum and lesson plans on the highlights of the Catholic faith) and move toward a method of “practicing” Catholicism. This practice is embedded in the Mass and using the weekly readings as your guide to general adult catechesis. Reading and unpacking the weekly reading is good practice regardless of the candidate’s state (Baptized Catholic, Baptized Christian, or un-baptized).

    This change in method also means changing from a “cohort” mentality with your group, and moving to an “individualized” approach. Taking the time to sit with each candidate, not just at inquiry, but periodically along their journey. Assessing their needs, and together determining how long they may need to stay in the process. And explaining to them and the group that everyone is on a different path. A full RCIA candidate my be in for the full two years, but a well catechized Christian may not need that much time. An adult Confirmation candidate my only need a few months, but a Baptized Catholic who hasn’t yet received Eucharist may need something longer depending on their experience. Full disclosure up front and during periodic interviews eliminates that awkward situation that can come closer to Easter when some will be Baptized at the Vigil, and others initiated at a different liturgy or next year.

    During our weekly sessions we spend the first hour on the coming Sunday’s readings. We then spend the second hour on related supplementary topics (for instance, readings on Baptism might roll into a discussion on the Sacrament of Baptism). Candidates, no mater what level they’re at, can now go into Sunday Mass armed with an understanding of the readings that can be complemented and supplemented by the homily. These are valuable experiences regardless of a person’s baptismal state.

    Making these changes can be difficult, and they won’t nor shouldn’t happen overnight. But if our parish can evolve our process successfully then anyone can.

  4. Kathleen E. Li

    I’d love to hear a few ideas of successes with differentiating this formation process. I am new to RCIA, and I can use all the experienced advice I can get!

  5. Carroll Ann Hinkle

    Recently returned to practicing my Christian faith as Catholic. Having been baptized in infancy, Catholic School ed. for 8 years. First Holy Comunion in 1st grade, Confirmation in 6th grade,it was recommended that I attend RCIA in my parish. Throughout Advent & Lent I did so. I believe it was helpful, but found the “curriculum” plan somewhat rigid & lacking in the JOY OF THE LORD. Made me a little sad for the Church I so loved even during the period of 20 yrs I adjourned with another Christian community. In my 20’s & early 30’s I was a contemplative nun in Solemn Vows. My community underwent a chaotic time during& post Vat.II, and dissolved with some nuns going to other monasteries, & some returning to secular life. I was one of the latter. I tried to live my professed commitment, became educated, teaching, nursing. During my early 50’s, I was led to practice my faith (committed to prayer, contemplation & biblical study). I missed my Catholic community of faith, & sought to return to it. I am 75 y.o. I find many “converts” in my parish, many of whom are in lay leadership positions. The parish is actively becoming a Christian community, & have been welcoming to me, helpful. During my time away in an evangelical protestant community, I cam closer to Our Lord than ever, through His Holy Word. To sum up, I agree that RCIA for unbaptized & “candidates” should be a separate tract, & for others such as myself, an individual pastoral approach. I found that using such high-minded tees such a mystagogy & such are probably confusing & create a heavy overlay to the truth & joy of the Gospel & the story of salvation. I think a more prayerful rather than didactic approach to bringing souls into the fold would be helpful. Thanks for allowing me to get this off my chest.

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