What to say instead of “OCIA”

When the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is retranslated, the new title of the rite will be Order of Christian Initiation of Adults. We’ve already seen some people referring to the new translation as “OCIA.”

This is probably fine if you are referring to the written text of the document, “Order of Christian Initiation of Adults.” However, we have a more than 40-year history of referring to the actual initiation process by the initials “RCIA.” This is unfortunate. By using the initials alone, we create an insider vocabulary. And it is too easy to think of those initials as standing for an academic learning project instead of encountering the person of Jesus Christ.

How long does RCIA take?

What should we say instead of “OCIA”?

At TeamRCIA, we are advocating that parish teams avoid using “OCIA” to describe the process of becoming a disciple. Whenever we say that, however, someone always asks what we should say instead. Well, here are 75 examples. Please comment on your favorites or add new ones in the comment section below.

  1. Catechumenate
  2. Catechumenate process
  3. Journey of faith
  4. Journey to baptism
  5. Emmaus journey
  6. Spiritual journey
  7. Spiritual discovery
  8. Spiritual encounter
  9. Spiritual exploration
  10. Following the Spirit
  11. Living in the Spirit
  12. Living in Spirit and faith
  13. Following Christ
  14. Way of faith
  15. Way of the Cross
  16. Way of the gospel
  17. Way of salvation
  18. Gospel living
  19. Baptismal living
  20. Missionary discipleship
  21. Discipleship training
  22. Christian discipleship process
  23. Christian initiation process
  24. Christian initiation
  25. Initiation process
  1. Christian apprenticeship
  2. Christian apprenticeship training
  3. Desire for the infinite
  4. Faith formation
  5. Christian faith formation
  6. Faith accompaniment
  7. Encounter with Christ
  8. Encountering Christ
  9. Walking in faith
  10. Walking by faith
  11. Walking with Christ
  12. Finding God
  13. Finding the truth
  14. Finding the fullness of truth
  15. Living a life of truth
  16. Discovering the truth
  17. Finding meaning
  18. Living a meaningful life
  19. Discovering meaning
  20. Finding grace
  21. Living a grace-filled life
  22. Living gracefully
  23. Conversion process
  24. Conversion journey
  25. Entering the mystery of faith
  1. Entering the mystery of Christ
  2. Entering the mystery of the Trinity
  3. Holy living
  4. Holiness training
  5. Holiness apprenticeship
  6. The way of holiness
  7. Encountering the Holy
  8. Enlightenment process
  9. Living in the light
  10. Joining the people of God
  11. Joining the people of faith
  12. Joining the circle of saints
  13. The healing journey
  14. Spiritual healing process
  15. Becoming apostles
  16. Apostleship process
  17. Apostleship training
  18. Apostolic living
  19. Apostolic journey
  20. Made not born
  21. Made not born process
  22. Making Christians
  23. Making disciples
  24. Prophetic living
  25. Prophetic discipleship

Your turn

How are you going to refer to the initiation of new disciples? Which options in this list resonate with your community? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How long does RCIA take?

See also these related articles:

  1. What is a rite and why does it matter for catechumenate teams?
  2. Are we geeky enough about the catechumenate?
  3. One Latin phrase that was not translated in the initiation rites
  4. FAQ: Everything you need to know about the new translation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
  5. How do priests learn about the principles of the catechumenate?

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  1. Why do we need to call it something else? After almost 40 years of people getting used to what RCIA is- it wouldn’t be helpful to change it. After all- it’s still going to be the “Rites” for Christian Initiation however The Order might look different. I see no point in calling it something else- it’s still RCIA. Anyway I think We’ll have a few years to figure it out.

  2. I’ve been using “The Catechumenate” for years. Of course, I almost always have to explain what that means.

  3. We already refer to our RCIA process as a ‘Journey in Faith.” Using the word in and not the word of makes a world of difference, just like O instead of R in the initials. Honestly. The initials RCIA are usually are usually in parentheses.

    Now, instead of someone inquiring about the RCIA process, they say I’m ready to begin my journey.

  4. 1 and 23 are closest to my choice.

    The RCIA is a learning process of faith seeking understanding for seekers of a community of believers:
    An initiation in the mysteries of Catholic faith.
    It is a journey that celebrates initiation and an ongoing journey with the People of God.

    I never liked the acronym as it sounds like a club or company name and isn’t immediately understood as an invitation initiated by God to draw closer to the Holy Trinity in a faith community!

    I agree that OCIA is even worse, for all the reasons you name.

    Thank you for all your good work!!

  5. I have no idea what it should be called. I do know that I will avoid any name that sounds like or implies it is an event. Events start and finish. I will avoid letting that mindset infiltrate the minds of our Catechumen and Candidates.

  6. hi. We use Journey of Faith already, with RCIA….but I like the Catechumenate as well. Will be interesting to see where we land. Do you also have the same recommendation for the Spanish RICA since their name isn’t changing? We like to be consistent with both programs at our parish so I assume we’d adjust that as well…but would love to hear others’ thoughts too. Thanks.

  7. I really like Faith Formation with perhaps an added tag of FAITH FORMATION: INQUIRING and then a later tag of FAITH FORMATION: CATECHUMENS etc. Maybe even FAITH FORMATION: NEWBIES. I know Faith Formation is used in a lot of parishes for religious education. It could still happen, but just use something after the colon to signify who is being addressed. FAITH FORMATION: WHOLE PARISH!!

  8. I’ve always thought that when we say, “RCIA” we are not reaching the very people we are trying to attract. “RCIA” or OCIA” means nothing to them. Also, many people call themselves “Christian” although they are not “Catholic.” I believe that calling it the “Catholic Initiation Process” or something similar to that would more directly communicate our intentions.

  9. I like many of those suggested titles. I have been saying “the Christian Initiation Process” for many years and I certainly use many of those other words to explain what the “process” means.

  10. The majority of people entering into the process are coming from another Christian faith tradition. It is not appropriate to imply they are becoming Christian. The majority of these are coming because someone who is already Catholic has invited them, often a family member or future spouse. Their first question is always “How do I become Catholic?” This is also true for the unbaptized who are nevertheless somewhat catechized. Therefore we speak of the process as Becoming Catholic.

  11. Properly, the “Catechumenate” or the “Catechumenal Process.”

    The Catholic Church used this term in it’s early history.

  12. Amen to not using OCIA or even RCIA as a noun. The Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy urged not doing so in early 1990’s. Yet publishers and even the USCCB continued doing it.
    I favor 1, 2, 23, 24, and 25. Add “baptismal catechumenate” since this is used in catechetical and Apostolic See documents.
    Most of the other options can/should also apply to ongoing faith formation efforts of the baptized.
    As a retired diocesan staffer, 130 parishes using 76 different names would not help the faithful focus on “what is going on here.”

  13. Christian Initiation is a term we have used. It captures the heart of both RCIA and OCIA which is Christian Initiation. Less is more!

  14. Great reflection~ And of course there is the, http://www.ocia.org, the Organic Crop Improvement Association… which I guess does sound like initiating growth and discovery… 🙂 I have always preferred not to refer to RCIA at all and go with whatever references can connect more readily with the rest of the parish sacramental preparation efforts. RCIA usually requires multiple explanation anyway, so sacraments of initiation or initiation sacraments and identify more specifically from there…. For children, for adults, or inquiry promotion for “adults who have not been baptized, confirmed,” etc. rather than, for those interested in the RCIA program,” etc. The names of the sacraments are more probably more familiar than “RCIA” and sidestep OCIA the different iterations for children’s RCIA altogether, as well as the “program and graduation” nuances and pitfalls. I have always found it problematic that some pastors can say, “oh we don’t do the RCIA, like any ritual of the church is an option. Presenting it as this is how we initiate adults can maybe help with that as well.

  15. “Becoming a disciple” – your own lead-in to the question, best sums it up for me.
    It is, after all, the end goal of the Kerygma.
    We are meant to be “mini-me’s” of Jesus – becoming a disciple is how!

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