R. C. I. A.
The Rite Christian Initiation of Adults
The RCIA is a four step process that supports and encourages the faith journey of all of us. It is designed to welcome and accompany those seeking to become members of the Catholic Church. The process focuses primarily on faith development rather than on a mastery of church doctrine.
The first phase of the process is call the Inquiry stage or Precatechumenate. It is designed to answer the questions of the Inquirers and to provide instruction on the basic teachings of the Catholic Church. The Presentation of the Bible, when each inquirer is presented with a copy of the Catholic bible, is an important part of this phase.
The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens marks the end of the Precatechumenate and the beginning of the second phase — the Catechumenate. At this time the Inquirers state their desire to continue on this journey. A member of the faith community is appointed as a Sponsor for each Inquirer while the entire faith community accepts the responsibility of supporting them by prayer. During this period those who are unbaptized are called Catechumens and those already Baptized are called Candidates for full Communion. Catechumens and Candidates join the community for the Liturgy of the Word. After the Homily they are dismissed with their catechist to continue breaking open the Word and applying it to their lives. Sponsors and the rest of the team join them after Mass to continue the sharing.
When the Catechumens and Candidates discern that they are ready to make a formal request for the Sacraments of Initiation, they are prepared for the Rite of Election. On the first Sunday of Lent, at the Mass which they all attend, the Rite of Sending to the Bishop is held. At this ceremony each Sponsor must declare his/her candidate ready for the Rite of Election. The Catechumens and Candidates must respond to the call and each declare his/her intention by signing the Book of the Elect. On Sunday afternoon the Catechumens, Candidates, Sponsors, Team and parish Clergy go to the Cathedral. There the Bishop calls each Catechumen (to be called Elect) to make a public declaration of intent and desire to receive the Easter Sacraments. Candidates, also, state their intention to become full members of the Church through Eucharist and Confirmation. Lent is the time of intense preparation for all. There is a special rite on each Sunday of Lent. At the Easter Vigil the Elect are Baptized, Confirmed and receive Eucharist and the Candidates, after making a profession of Faith, receive Confirmation and Eucharist.
Easter is not the end but only the Beginning! The fourth phase, Mystagogy, is a lifelong part of the process. The newly received Catholics (Neophytes) are invited to participate fully in the life of the Church by participating in social outreach programs, scripture study and faith sharing groups, and various forms of ministry.
The RCIA process can be fruitful only to the extent that every member of the parish is involved. There are many levels of participation: prayer, visiting and providing snacks at weekly meetings, providing receptions after major rites, greeting and welcoming at Mass, or by being a team member or sponsor. If you think you are called to help in any way please contact Ernie or Lisa Sieber; for Ernie call 225-266-0569; for Lisa call 225-802-1165
For information on adult Confirmation call Terri Meaney (225-869-8429).