Evangelization aims to lead others to life-changing encounters with Jesus, with the result that he becomes the Lord of one’s own life (UTG, Marker 2.1).
This is the purpose of the RCIA process, to create a space for participants to encounter the Lord, hear the message of the Gospel, and decide to follow Jesus Christ.
The Catholic Church is a church of converts. Ever since Peter preached the first homily on Pentecost Sunday, the Church has been attracting converts from every race, language, nation, and culture. What started in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago, continues with us today. As we transition to Families of Parishes, we have a unique opportunity to unleash the Gospel and bring people to Jesus in new and exciting ways.
The RCIA process has a special role in bringing people to Jesus, as it is the primary means by which we receive adults into the Church. Individuals who enter the RCIA fall into 3 categories:
- those seeking baptism
- those baptized in other faiths seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, and
- those baptized Catholic but needing to complete their sacraments of Initiation
Individuals seeking baptism are called catechumens; and the baptized, seeking full initiation are called candidates.
What are the Stages of RCIA?
The RCIA is not a yearly program, but a process that recognizes that people come to faith in stages. The Rite structures the process according to these stages of conversion: the Precatechumenate, the Catechumenate, the Period of Purification and Enlightenment, and Mystagogy. The transition to Families offers parishes the opportunity to explore how RCIA can be structured in order to welcome and accompany individuals through the process of conversion, no matter when they come forward with an interest in becoming Catholic. Harnessing the resources across a whole Family of Parishes offers numerous opportunities to strengthen the ministry and be more faithful to the Rite as it is given to us by the Church.
What are some tools to help me implement RCIA in a Family of Parishes?
Check out these helpful websites for additional resources and information on RCIA:
Forming Ministers for RCIA
It is important for leaders in the RCIA to be formed for ministry. This can be done in a variety of ways. RCIA Coordinators should have a solid theological foundation so as to provide leadership in catechizing participants and guiding other team members. The Certificate in Catholic Theology at Sacred Heart Major Seminary gives a great theological foundation in liturgy and the sacraments, Scripture, Moral Theology, and more! Catechists and dismissal catechists can also benefit from catechist certification. Franciscan University as well as Team RCIA have great ministry-specific training for those involved in catechumenal ministry.
Resources for Formation:
- Sacred Heart Major Seminary
- Advanced Catechist Certification
- Franciscan University Catechetical Institute
- Team RCIA
Take It to the Next Level
The RCIA is a potent vehicle for evangelization. Consider these suggestions to take your RCIA ministry to the next level:
- Use the RCIA in Families Parishes document to guide you in structuring this ministry in a Family of Parishes.
- Explore the contents of the RCIA Handbook (coming soon) and use it as a reference for questions and issue that arise.
- Create an RCIA team of all those who are involved in RCIA ministry across your Family of Parishes, assess the experience, gifts, and talents of this team, and harness these gifts and talents in way that positions this ministry to be visible, engaging, and missionary.
- Be sure to utilize the evangelization programs within your Family of Parishes to serve as a stepping-stone into RCIA.
- Be intentional about inviting people into the RCIA: invite from the pulpit, reach out to parents bringing children to religious education, reach out to Catholic school parents, reach out to new parishioners, etc.
- Utilize social media to make RCIA known in your geographical territory.
- Use other parish events to advertise RCIA.
For support for RCIA Ministry contact:
Sr. Esther Mary Nickel, RSM
Director of Sacred Worship