“What do you wan to be when you grow up?” It’s a pretty common question we face when we’re kids, and typically our answers are based on what we’re familiar with (or what we’ve seen on TV). And even as we get older our educational and career choices are still based on our own experience. Put another way, how do you know what you want to be if you haven’t seen what you could be?
This same kind of formed awareness must also apply to your RCIA process. It’s my subtle way of saying that the first step for moving to a year-round process must begin with team formation. How do you know what your RCIA process can be if you haven’t seen what it could be?
Are you stuck in the “bubble” of your own parish?
And when I say formation, I mean reaching outside the bubble of your parish to something bigger. One of the joys of being part of the Universal Church are the resources available to us. Among them are:
- TeamRCIA… which you already know. But did you know that TeamRCIA also offers webinars and live training sessions throughout the year? Take the time to see when TeamRCIA might be coming someplace near you. Yes, there’s a cost for attending these webinars and live sessions, but I think you’ll find they’re well worth the cost. And more importantly… make sure to spread the word about TeamRCIA! Everyone on your team should be on their e-mail list.
- Diocesan Resources… Many diocese have personnel dedicated to helping RCIA catechists… and the larger the diocese the more likely they are to have helpful people and resources. Don’t know where to start? How about your diocesan web site? Or contact the person who coordinates the Rite of Election. Many diocese also hold or sponsor workshops and conferences that can be helpful to RCIA catechists. Make contacts and get on their email lists.
- Other local parishes… Make an effort to reach out and get to know the people working in the RCIA and Adult Faith Formation in your neighboring parishes. Find out what they’re doing. In business organizations we are constantly taught the value of “networking” to help in our careers. The same is true for ministry. So make the effort to reach out and get to know more people working in this ministry.
- Your own pastor… and others in your parish leadership team, including associate pastors, deacons, pastoral associates, directors of formation, even the school principle. RCIA groups can sometimes live in their own little bubble within the parish, sticking their head out only during Lent. By reaching out you might be pleasantly surprised. You never know where you might find a helpful resource (or even some new candidates).
- Feeling adventurous? Why not go way out of town to attend an even bigger conference. Many larger diocese will sponsor major workshops and events that support RCIA teams. A quick internet search can find any number of conferences and training opportunities. Also, see teamrcia.com/institutes
Get your RCIA team out of its comfort zone
My experience over the years has been that the best formation comes from reaching outside the comfort of your own parish. Consider for a moment all our inquirers, catechumens and candidates… Some of whom have never had any religious formation or identity. Now imagine how far outside their comfort bubble they’ve had to reach in order to make their initial inquiry? We can learn a lot from their courage to seek a change in their lives.
Team formation allows you to see both what is possible and proper for performing the rites and for crafting your formation program. And not just once. Team formation should remain regular and ongoing.
As RCIA catechists, we remind our catechumens and candidates that their baptism (or reception into the church) isn’t an end, but a beginning. In fact, we spend the entire period of Mystagogy helping them to both process the experience of their initiation and to help them chart the course on the next step of their faith journey. We as catechists must practice what we preach. One moment of formal formation is just the first step in what should be a continuing journey of formation.
Like Jesus going to the wilderness, we too must get away… to refresh, to pray, and to discern how we can continually make our rites and processes better. Formation helps us draw the map that gets us there.
Share your thoughts
And now it’s your turn… let us know what formation opportunities you’ve found to be most helpful?
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