Christian Formation

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Process

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the process or method by which adults are brought into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.  This Rite was brought back into use after Vatican Council II.  I say “brought back into use” because a similar method was used in the very early days of Christianity, when the Christian faith was persecuted by Roman authorities as a faith that was outside the list of their approved religions.  The infant Church found it necessary to be very careful about bringing new members into the fold, for fear of discovery and betrayal.  Therefore, people who wished to learn about Christianity were admitted to the first step in the process, that of inquiry into the basic beliefs of the new movement.  They were then admitted to the first half of Mass (the Liturgy of the Word).  These Masses were held in secret, for fear of discovery by the Romans, and after the homily the new “catechumen” (a person who has not been baptized) was dismissed with their instructor or teacher, to further study the Scriptures and homily of that Mass and how they were assimilated into the inquirer’s life….a life-changing process of hope and transformation!  This process would hopefully result in the conversion of the inquirer and a desire to come into full communion with the Body of Christ, the new Christian faith. 

After about 3 years of instruction and Masses in this way, the inquirer would enter into a deeper period of prayer and instruction during the Lenten period, and then if all would proceed as planned, would be received into the Church on Holy Saturday night, during the Easter Vigil.  He/she would receive all three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion).

Then, as now, The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is designed for adults who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts.  Today, however, the process normally takes about 9 months, but can certainly take longer, if catechumen and instructor and pastor agree.  During these months, a variety of opportunities to learn and be formed to the mind of Christ are offered.  The Catechumen is expected to take this process seriously, attending these opportunities faithfully.  They typically include Sunday morning gathering for Mass, then dismissal to discuss the readings and homily, and in some programs, another period of study during the week, for about 1-2 hours, in which the Sacraments, Scriptures, Catholic doctrines and beliefs are explained and discussed.  Lent is an even more intense time of prayer, fasting and preparation, and includes a visit to the Cathedral in Milwaukee to attend a welcoming by the Bishop. (By this time, it is presumed that the catechumen has committed him/herself to entrance into the Church.)  The culmination, as mentioned above, is reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church on Holy Saturday evening.

The RCIA is truly a life-giving process for all involved and people often tell me that they had no idea the journey they had embarked upon would change them so completely.  It is truly a journey of the heart and the mind and if taken seriously, and embarked upon with prayer and thoughtful contemplation, WILL make a difference in your life.

If you would like to discuss this process in detail, please contact Fr. Russ through the parish office.

St. Francis Xavier & St. John the Baptist Parishes 2014