How to fit in square pegs when our formation process is a round hole

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3 thoughts on “How to fit in square pegs when our formation process is a round hole”

  1. Covid was what pushed our team into some major challenges and changes. We were running a form of year round process which formally began two weeks after Easter, with inquiry being on Monday evenings and Rites of Welcome and Acceptance and mandatory Mass attendance and dismissal session starting late summer . Within that setting we also brought baptized candidates to sacraments when they were deemed ready, within that time frame. After Covid hit, we were “down” for 5 months before we switched completely to Sunday morning with new folks, primarily because we were still not allowed inside buildings, so had to meet outdoors in daylight, so that set a pattern of all Sunday morning, Mass followed by a catechetical session for inquiry and liturgical catechesis. That group missed so much because of vacations and illness, quarantine, etc., that they were not ready for sacraments until Pentecost.
    Our team decided they much preferred a complete Sunday morning process from the beginning., so we began that way last June and required outdoor Sunday Mass attendance, followed by inquiry;, and having the Welcome/Acceptance rites in September, and then focusing on liturgical catechesis.
    I believe it was partly the effect of Covid that we ended up with the ;most diverse, group sacramentally that we’ve ever had. We have a couple coming in from a Pentecostal background in which the husband has three years of Scripture study, reads the entire Bible cover to cover every year, and is extremely intelligent, and hopes to become a deacon in the Church. We have an 18 year old autistic young man whose parents attend with him, to support him, and whose sister eventually joined us because she needs Confirmation. This is their entire family. We have a single man of 40, never baptized. We have 3 more couples two married, and one scheduled for marriage here this coming summer. In each of these 3 couples, one partner needs only Confirmation, and one needs only Eucharist. I have always followed the guidelines that someone who needs only Confirmation should not be confirmed at the Easter Vigil, but all these people are partners to someone who needs Eucharist and Baptism. I have consulted with my pastor about all this, and he is sure that as a one time thing, our bishop will allow us to bring all these people through the Easter Vigil. I don’t environs that in the future. I still see the wisdom of keeping Adult Confirmation as a separate process. But the group is amazing, growing spiritually. The Pentecostal couple seem very happy with participating in the process itself, even though they are really ready for sacraments now, if they so wished. We are letting them make the choice. The autistic young man is enjoying the Mass, reading his Bible on his own at home, and the witness his parents and sister give in their support of him brings grace to all of us.
    Running the process this way has helped us provide a longer time of Mass attendance together, giving the candidates the opportunity to really become familiar with it.
    Best of all, we have been able to welcome in right away anyone who calls and invite them to both Mass and the session that follows. We have already had one young man join us a month ago. He will not go to Vigil this year, but will transition in to the new group in May. Meanwhile he’s getting familiar with the mass, the Scriptures and the community, and feels comfortable and welcomed.
    I also expect that when our Pentecostal couple are in full communion with us, they will continue to be involved with the RCIA process.

  2. The challenge with offering more personal intervention and guidance is quite simply one of resource availability and competence. As RCIA process leader I earned Certificates in Lay Formation Ministry and Church History from joint effort of Notre Dame School of Theology (on line) and the Archdioese of Indianapolis. I also participated in some in depth Vatican II seminars. At same time all the other RCIA Team Catechists have reached ages of retirement or older and decided to leave the ministry. We have about 15 Adult Catechumens and Candidates and about 20 “kids” Catechumens every year. Each has their own story and we do the best with what we have. I even created some 40 YouTube videos to help with the Catechists work and added Google Classroom last year. Meanwhile we cannot recruit new team members….they just don’t want to commit. Finally we are transitioning to major Hispanic community. Very challenging

    1. Hi Bruce. I agree that this ministry can be challenging at times. And I know that you and most people that the Holy Spirit has called to this ministry are up to the challenge. I believe you have all the gifts you need to do exactly that the Spirit is asking you to do.

      As I’m sure you know, a parish with someone who has the background and training that you have is more the exception than the rule. And yet, all parishes, no matter how richly or poorly they are resourced, are tasked with the same mission — to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ.

      I have no doubt that you and your parish will find creative ways to accomplish the mission. There are so many people in the world who are desperate to have the kind of peace and joy that we have. There just has to be a way that we can get that message out to them.

      I will be praying for you. Blessings on your ministry. And thank you for your dedication and commitment.

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