RCIA is the Church’s way of forming new disciples of Jesus Christ. Through a gradual, complete, and comprehensive training in the Christian way of life, individuals come to know Jesus Christ through the Catholic Christian community and they learn to live as Jesus’ disciples. Participating in the RCIA is more than going to classes on Catholicism. It is undergoing a conversion to a new way of life in Christ. Although doctrinal instruction is a part of the formation process, the conversion process involves learning the Catholic Christian way of life from being in the midst of the parish community.
There are four steps of the RCIA: pre-catechumenate, catechumenate, Lenten purification and mystagogia.
The pre-catechumenate phase, or inquiry phase, begins when a person makes an inquiry to the Church in order to learn more about the Catholic faith. Once the individual has 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.
The second state of the initiation process is the extended period of time when those to be initiated receive their more formal training into the Christian way of life. Those to be initiated learn more about the sacred Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church. Candidates participate in sessions that help them to understand the doctrinal teachings of the Church. Catechumens participate in the Rite of Election, the second major ritual of the RCIA.
Lenten purification is the final period of preparation. It is a period of intense, spiritual recollection that usually coincides with Lent. It is a period of purification and enlightenment, a time for reflection and prayer. Candidates celebrate several rituals to complete their conversion to the Catholic faith.
The process of initiation continues after the Easter celebration, during the Easter period of mystagogia. The newly initiated gather each week to deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery.
RCIA involves not just those wishing to convert to Catholicism, but the entire parish community. The process not only makes new disciples, but renews the faith of those already within the Church.
For more information about the RCIA process, please contact: