That time I bit off more than I could chew…
My first year as an RCIA coordinator was more than I could have imagined it might be, and occasionally felt like more than I could manage. There always seemed to be something that needed my attention:
- forming a team
- responding to inquirers
- finding people to speak on various topics
- finding people who could provide spiritual depth
- making sure we got in all the Catholic teaching
Oh yeah, and also starting a year-round catechumenate process!
I remember graced conversations with early participants and the sense of responsibility in insuring that the process would form them as committed disciples of Jesus Christ.
I recall specific RCIA sessions, ones where the process fell flat, and others that seemed particularly filled with the Holy Spirit.
I especially recall the Easter Vigil, the flood of emotions, prayers for the newly initiated, and the hope that this was the beginning of a lifetime of faith for them and their families.
Throughout the year, I saw faith come to life among the participants, and looked forward to Sunday dismissals and Thursday evening sessions. With all of the time and attention on the participants in that first year, I have to admit I was not quite prepared for the impact of the process on myself and the RCIA team.
Nor did I anticipate the ways in which the participants in the RCIA process (the inquirers, catechumens, and candidates) would touch the wider parish community. Beginning with the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and regular dismissal from the Sunday assembly every week, our team heard how the presence of the catechumens among the community called people to examine their own commitment to Christ. I experienced first-hand the interaction of participants and parishioners that the RCIA describes:
The period of postbaptismal catechesis is of great significance for both the neophytes and the rest of the faithful. Through it the neophytes, with the help of their godparents, should experience a full and joyful welcome into the community and enter into closer ties with the other faithful. The faithful, in turn, should derive from it a renewal of inspiration and of outlook. (246)
The RCIA propelled participants, the team, and the whole parish toward an encounter with Christ and to living discipleship.
It Is All About Change
It took many years for me to grasp that the RCIA, and all of the Christian life, is ultimately about change. We change into followers of Jesus Christ, and that change is the work of a lifetime. We are never finished products. Discipleship calls us to continual discernment, spiritually assessing how we might be called to live, grow, learn, serve, and love more deeply as Christ’s body in the world.
As RCIA leaders, we are the leaders of change.
And we need a plan to make change happen. We need a plan for conversion.
In this institute, we will explore eight steps to move your RCIA process from maintenance-mode into a true conversion journey that inspires seekers and all in the parish to living discipleship.
Here’s what you will leave with at the end of our time together:
- A clear vision of what an effective initiation process looks like
- Steps for creating or reinvigorating your team
- A realistic plan that will work in your parish
- Communication methods to get the whole parish on board
- Skills for recognizing and removing roadblocks
- Ideas for celebrating success
- A method for keeping your vision alive
- A way to make sure your plan outlasts you
Your next step
TeamRCIA institutes tend to sell out, so don’t wait too long to reserve your spot.
Just click on the link to the (arch)diocesan location you are most interested in attending. (You can find the links in the right sidebar.) That will take you to an information page where you can learn more and register.
We look forward to seeing you there!