We will be continuing to welcome people who are interested in the RCIA journey or would like to discover more about the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults at our meetings on Sundays after the 11:00 Mass. All are welcome to join our brief teaching today or stop by to ask questions about full initiation into the Catholic Church. In addition, there is a form below that you may fill out if you are interested in entering the RCIA or share with someone you may know who’s heart is being stirred to seek God more fully in the Catholic Church.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding RCIA at 734-283-1366 x112 or email: dgorski@stcyprian.com.


The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

 Awaking the Sleeping Giant


The RCIA  in a nutshell.

The RCIA process is a restoration of the ancient practice of initiation into the Catholic Church.  It is a process of discerning and ritualizing the various stages of the conversion process, leading to sacramental initiation through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist.  The normal time for reception into the church through these sacraments is the Easter Vigil.


Why the RCIA?

In recent years there has been a great increase in the number of adults who are joining the Catholic Church.  RCIA  is a process designed to help non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics learn more about Catholicism.  The RCIA is a mix of praying, learning facts, discussing how these apply to our lives, participating in prayerful ceremonies (called “rites”) and most importantly, using all of these experiences to build and grow in a relationship with God It helps people grow in faith and knowledge of God as they consider becoming Catholic.  There is no obligation to join the Catholic Church.

St. Cyprian’s RCIA program is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the Catholic Faith. If you are not yet sure whether you want to become Catholic, you are still welcome to participate as you make your decision.

People from all sorts of religious backgrounds join the RCIA. Some have been baptized in another Christian religion and some have not. Some have been practicing members of a Christian religion for years and some have had little or no religious instruction or support. Some are already Catholic but are seeking a greater understanding of our Faith.


What is involved in the RCIA?

It is a gradual journey of many steps and stages. The four steps of the RCIA are: pre-catechumenate, catechumenate, Lenten purification and mystagogia. Along the way are key rites of acceptance, election, scrutinies (blessings) and initiation.

Step 1: The pre-catechumenate

The RCIA officially begins when a person calls the parish office and says something like, “I want to be baptized,” or, “I’d like to know more about the Catholic Church.” When such a person begins the process of initiation, she or he is in the first stage or period of initiation, called the period of evangelization and pre-catechumenate. It’s also known as the inquiry period. This inquiry period has usually begun long before anyone calls the parish office. It begins when the person is first evangelized. That’s when they first hear the good news of Jesus Christ from a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a spouse, a parent, a stranger. Someone or something has drawn them to the parish and they want to find out more. During this first period of the process the parish helps the inquirer to discover just what it is he or she is seeking.

Rite of Acceptance. Once the inquirers have experienced an initial conversion to Jesus Christ, they celebrate the first major liturgical ritual of the initiation process. This first ritual is the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. During this rite of acceptance, which is usually celebrated during Sunday Mass, the candidates for initiation are publicly welcomed for the first time. They “declare their intention to the Church and the Church in turn…accepts them as persons who intend to become its members” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, no. 41). The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens completes the first stage or period of the initiation process and opens the door to the second period of the process, the period of the catechumenate.

Step 2: Catechumenate

This second stage of the initiation process is the extended period of time when those to be initiated receive their more formal training in the Christian way of life. There are two groups. The catechumens are those who are unbaptized. Other candidates for initiation are those who are already baptized, either in a Catholic or Protestant Church, but who are not fully initiated. During the catechumenate stage, those to be initiated learn more about the sacred Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church. They meet weekly at Mass to hear the Word of God proclaimed. In many parishes, the catechumens and candidates (those in the period of the catechumenate who are already baptized) are dismissed after the homily. That is, they are invited to leave the main body of the Church and meet with a catechist to discuss the Scriptures they heard proclaimed at Mass. This study and reflection on the Scriptures is an important part of their formation and helps them prepare for the day when they will receive the Body and Blood of Christ. In addition to the study of the Scriptures, the candidates participate in sessions that help them to understand the doctrinal teachings of the Church. The candidates also learn about the prayer and worship life of the Church. They learn how to live and serve others in apostolic witness. And they develop their relationship with the Catholic Christian community. When they have experienced a true conversion to the Christian way of life (which the Church says is at least one year for the unbaptized), they celebrate the second major ritual in the process of initiation.

Rite of Election. The second major ritual of the RCIA usually occurs on the First Sunday of Lent. The catechumens have been elected (chosen) by God to receive the sacraments of initiation. The Church gives voice to God’s election and calls each one of the catechumens by name to sign the Book of the Elect. This is a diocesan celebration and the presiding celebrant is the diocesan bishop. Often the celebration takes place at the diocesan cathedral, though in many dioceses there are multiple celebrations and sometimes at multiple locations. Generally, the local parish celebrates a Rite of Sending as a way of celebrating the candidates’ upcoming election and sending them on to the bishop for their admission to the final period of preparation for the sacraments.

Step 3: Period of purification.  

This final period of preparation is one of intense, spiritual reflection and preparation.  It is a period of purification and enlightenment. The candidates, now called the elect, purify their minds and hearts by celebrating several rituals. The three purifying rituals, known as the Scrutinies, strengthen the elect and help to complete their conversion. The Presentation of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer enlighten the minds of the elect in the final weeks of their preparation for the sacraments. Lent ends when the sacred Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) begins, at sunset Thursday of Holy Week. The Sacraments of Initiation will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil. At the Easter Vigil after sunset on Holy Saturday, the elect and possibly some previously baptized candidates celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism (for the unbaptized), Confirmation and Eucharist. The elect are plunged into the waters of new birth and come out of those waters reborn in Christ. They are then configured to be more like Christ through the sacred chrism of Confirmation. Finally, the culmination of their initiation happens when they taste the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. So, too, some of the baptized candidates may make a profession of faith, be confirmed and receive the Eucharist in this most holy of all the Church’s liturgies.

Step 4: Period of mystagogy

The process of initiation continues even after the Easter celebration, during the Eastertide period of mystagogia. The word comes from an ancient Greek word signifying a deepening understanding of the mysteries of our faith. During the Easter season, the neophytes (newly initiated) gather each week to deepen their grasp of the great paschal mystery into which they have just been incorporated. These new Christians have received the Body of Christ and have indeed become part of the Body of Christ through their Baptism. The Church uses the period of mystagogy to help the neophytes understand and live out their new lives as part of the Body of Christ. Furthermore, mystagogy is about mission. The new Christians, now part of Christ’s body, must now go forth with us to continue the mission of Jesus Christ. That’s where the whole parish, indeed the entire Church, comes in again. We celebrate the three sacraments of initiation to make us more like Christ and “to enable us to carry out the mission of the entire people of God in the Church and in the world” (Rite, General Intro)

Through the RCIA our parish participates in the mission of the Church. We make new disciples and we renew the old, faithful ones. When we commit ourselves, our energy and our resources to the RCIA, we commit St. Cyprian to continuing the mission of Jesus in the Church and in the world.