RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION FOR ADULTS (RCIA)
The Rite for Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process through which interested adults are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith and way of life. These adults include those who have never been baptized, those that may have been validly baptized in other Christian faith traditions but want to come into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, and others who may have been baptized in the Catholic Church as children but for some reason have never been properly catechized. The RCIA is a communal process and involves a number of stages punctuated by liturgical rites to assist the potential convert or candidate toward the rites of initiation usually celebrated at the Easter Vigil at which time they will become full members of the Roman Catholic Church. The entire process takes several months, although participants are generally invited to proceed at a pace which suits them individually. Children who were not baptized as infants but have reach catechetical age are also initiated through an adapted process of this rite, sometimes referred to as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Adapted for Children.
The RCIA process is divided into distinct periods or stages designed to help catechumens (unbaptized) and candidates (formerly baptized but uncatechized) prepare for the Easter sacraments. These periods are as follows:
- Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. This is also known as the Period of Inquiry. Inquirers are given basic information about the catholic faith. Here the church offers an invitation to initial conversion. There is no obligation involved in attending these meetings as they are intended to help a person decide whether he or she wants to continue learning about the faith. Attendees at this stage are known as Inquirers. Those desiring to continue with their journey are welcomed by the community in the Rite of Acceptance.
- Period of the Catechumenate. During this time the catechumens and candidates receive instructions on the Catholic faith and are assisted to learn about Jesus by studying and reflecting on Sacred Scriptures.
- Period of Purification and Englightenment. This period tends to correspond with Lent and is intended for catechumens and candidates to increase introspection of their lives and come closer to God, eliminating what is weak and sinful and affirming what is holy. Usually during the first week of Lent, the local Bishop celebrates the Rite of Election during which time the catechumens become elects, and the Bishop calls all elects and candidates to continuing coversion. During this period the elects and candidates also undertake a number of rites including several scrutinies and presentations. This period culminates in the celebration of the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation and eucharist) at the Easter Vigil.
- Period of Post-Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy. This is a fifty day period which lasts from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday. The conclusion of the Mystagogy period marks the end of initiation process. Now the neophytes enter into a lifelong process of Christian formation along with the rest of the faithful.
At St. Michael Parish, a team of catechists help facilitate the RCIA process. The members of the team are as follows: Buena Algoso, Miriam Andaya, Perla Boudreaux, John Hindman, Roxanne Jones, Rene Marcelino, and Loreta Sigarlaki. The sessions are generally held on Sundays. For more information about the RCIA, please contact the parish office.