Is your RCIA open all year-round? Do we even need catechetical sessions?

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4 thoughts on “Is your RCIA open all year-round? Do we even need catechetical sessions?”

  1. Vince Brandolini

    This is my 1st year running RCIA; previously the process was a bit “thin”. In any event I do not know what the previous “attendance requirements” were, but I can describe what I am doing now.

    Unfortunately, for the moment I am stuck with the typical “Sept – Easter” timeframe. It is essential, of course, that the catechumens be given a complete review of the Faith, including how the Faith informs everyday life. Otherwise there is the very real chance that they will be entering a relationship with Christ and His Church without understanding how that relationship is lived out.

    I have seen it happen where a class was not told that contraception is wrong until after the Rite of Election… and the catechumens had already promised to live out the Faith! Suppose they are unsure if they are willing to live that aspect of the commitment to the Catholic life?

    That gives me very little time to cover what needs to be covered… and because of that, it is important that everyone experience every session.

    So what happens when someone misses one?

    From the very beginning I made it clear to them that I was their servant in this journey of theirs. If they miss a session I will do whatever I possibly can to help make it up to them. I will go to their house or meet them on some other day according to their wishes and convenience… I will take off from work if I have to. In addition, I am available to correspond with or to meet with them privately if they were having difficulty with any particular aspect of Catholic teaching.

    The people in the process seem to appreciate the accommodation, and so far it seems to have worked reasonably well.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Vince. I know there are many others out there who have similar challenges. Yes, we never want to have our catechumens initiated without them having a firm understanding of our faith traditions and important Church teachings. This is why National Statutes for the Catechumenate states that the period of the catechumenate (not counting the pre-catechumenate or mystagogia) should “extend for at least one year” (paragraph 6) and that the RCIA states that the period of the catechumenate “may last for several years.” (paragraph 7.2). Like many parishes, however, it is very difficult to break out of that academic calendar (which gives me a good topic for a future article), but let me suggest this as a necessary first step… with your next incoming group, make sure that each individual realizes that not everyone is going to complete the process by the coming Easter, and that in fact, most of them won’t likely be initiated until the following Easter. That turns your 7-8 month process into a 19-20 monthly process with most of the previous year’s catechumens carrying over to the next cycle. Of course, not all of them may need that much time if they come to you already well catechized, but for those who need more, this will provide the much needed time for the additional catechesis they need without necessarily changing the September to Easter schedule. You can search TeamRCIA for “year-round” and find a lot of articles that may help you. Nothing changes overnight, but you can begin taking small steps toward a more fuller RCIA experience.

  2. It’s invaluable to have catechetical sessions. The model the Church follows is well tested and has always included catechetical sessions that form those in RCIA. It is true that it’s much more than a process of instructing for understanding/knowledge, but that is a key component in the big picture journey of making disciples.

  3. Carol Sherman

    Sounds like the author of Is your RCIA open all year-round? Do we even need catechetical sessions? was hiding in the room at my last Christian Initiation team meeting.

    Thank you for these incites. Also, thanks to Diane for Your Parish IS the Curriculum. Great resource to help get the parish involved in the individual journeys

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