What is RCIA?
The Catholic Church always welcomes new members into its community. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the present-day process by which people enter into the faith. RCIA is a process in which interested men and women can explore Catholicism, and make a decision to become a Catholic over a period of months.
Who can apply?
Any adult, 18 years and older, who is unbaptized or a baptized Christian of another faith, may participate in the RCIA process.
What is the process?
- The process begins a period of Inquiry, during which interested individuals can learn the core beliefs of the Catholic Church, sacraments and rituals, and basic church history. This is a time when inquirers ask a lot of questions of the RCIA team members. After this initial period, participants are asked to affirm their decision to continue the process.
- Next is the period of the catechumenate to involve participants in the church community. This period allows participants the opportunity to examine their commitment to the process through regular attendance at classes and an encouraged participation in community service events and involvement in other parish activities.
- The next step is an intense period of prayer and reflection leading to the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. Holy Trinity normally confers Baptism at the Easter vigil, and confirmation either at Easter or on the feast of Christ the King in late autumn.
When does the process start?
Those curious about the Catholic faith are encouraged to begin exploring this process whenever they feel so moved. Timing of the process and reception of sacraments is always geared toward your readiness to move forward through the process. The majority of candidates for the sacraments traditionally begin this process in the fall, moving toward receiving the sacraments at Easter, but we welcome you to begin this process at any time
The RCIA Process
- Inquiry - In this first stage, you are known as an inquirer. When someone first decides to become a member of the Catholic Church, after a time of reflection, they may decide to enter the RCIA process. From this point on, they become a member of the Catechumenate.
- Rite of Acceptance / Catechumenate - During the second stage, you are known as a Catechumen. This is the primary learning phase of the RCIA process. Often times, many people simply "go through the motions" to complete this phase, but it can be a time of tremendous growth. I encourage you to faithfully spend time in study, prayer, and scriptures.
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment. - At this stage, you become a part of the elect. At the beginning of Lent, Catechumens ask to be baptized into the Church. From this point, you are entering the final phase before becoming a member of the Catholic Church.
- Sacrament of Initiation - Celebrated at the Easter Vigil, the elect are made formal members of the Church. This is also more commonly known as Confirmation. Most people only associate Confirmation with children, but the Sacrament of Initiation is a part of the RCIA process as well. During this stage, the elect are baptized, confirmed, and then receive the Eucharist for the first time.The next step is an intense period of prayer and reflection leading to the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
- Mystagogy - This final stage is a period of growth. As new members of the Catholic Church, you will strengthen your faith and learn to apply it to your daily life. Often forgotten, this phase is just as important as the earlier phases.
Coming into Full Communion
For those who have already been baptized, they are known as Candidates. As a Candidate, you will go through many of the same periods of growth as the Catechumens. For Candidates, the focus is on teaching the foundations and traditions of the Catholic Church in contrast to other Christian denominations. Like Catechumen, Candidates should spend a great deal of time focusing on their studies, prayer, and learning the scriptures.