What is the RCIA?
Then we have:
· Persons baptized in the Catholic Church but for one reason or another did not receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist;
· Persons who were previously baptized in another Christian traditions but wish to embrace the Catholic Faith;
· The un-baptized ~ seeking entrance into the Catholic Church.
They will go through a “Rite”, a faith journey that will lead them to full membership in the Catholic Church ~ this process is called the RCIA ~ the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It is not a program nor is it part of an instructional course of study in Religious Education but rather a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful.
“From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present:
· Proclaiming of the Word;
· Acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion;
· Profession of faith;
· Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1229)
Is there a Role for the Community in the RCIA?
YES! WE are ALL responsible to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth!
“The entire Christian community is responsible for the initiation of its newest disciples. Here are some specific ways:
As mentoring community. Every baptized parishioner has a role in initiation of our new members. We are part of that mentoring community that apprentices the new disciples. By observing our prayer, words, deeds and actions in the parish and in the broader community our newest members learn what it means to live as a Catholic Christian today. We provide the examples. We are the models. RCIA depends on us because we make up the Christian community.
As sponsors. In addition to the prayers we offer for our candidates and the examples we provide, there are other specific ways parishioners are involved in RCIA. Baptized members of the community serve as sponsors for candidates in the RCIA. A sponsor is an active member of the parish who walks with the candidate on the journey to new, fuller life in Christ. The sponsor supports and guides the candidate along the way. The sponsor is the candidate’s personal connection to the parish.
As members of the Sunday assembly. There is one other way that every worshiping parishioner is involved in the RCIA. That’s through participation in the liturgical rites of initiation that usually happen at Sunday Mass, especially in the months before Easter but also throughout the year. There are major liturgical rituals that mark the progress of the candidates who are in the initiation process. These liturgical rites are major events not only for the candidates in the process, but also for the entire parish. During the rites the parish recognizes and celebrates the candidates. As a member of the parish you are asked to pray with and for those in the initiation process. As a member of the Body of Christ, you also make manifest Christ’s presence in the community. You, and we, are a sign of Christ to the candidates in the RCIA.”
May God continue to bless us and May St. Kevin intercede for us as we journey toward our Celebration of the Liturgical Rites of Initiation.