The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (the RCIA) is a process for people who wish to become members of the Roman Catholic Church. This process is based on the creed, the code, the cult and is concerned with a gradual spiritual journey and total formation of the individual into:
believing with the Church community (doctrinal formation)
living with the Church community (practical formation)
praying with the Church community (liturgical formation)
serving with the Church community (apostolic formation)
The central and unifying principle of the process and the Rite is conversion. Those converted join the paschal journey of Jesus Christ. They are introduced to Church doctrine, life, liturgy and apostolic work. This journey in faith culminates in the celebration at Easter when the converted receive the Sacraments of Initiation; the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. The Gospel message conversion is the reason for becoming a Catholic Christian and the reason for remaining one.
The RCIA is designed primarily for adults seeking Baptism. As the nature of conversion is an ongoing reality, the RCIA is adapted for those baptized in other Christian denominations, now seeking membership in the Roman Catholic Church. As such, the RCIA is a flexible process which respects the faith development of the individual while maintaining the ideals and vision of the Catholic community.
Blessing/Anointing/Sending of the Catechumens for Election
Rite of Enrolment of Names/Elect
One year or more
Purification and Enlightenment
Presentation of the Creed/Lord’s Prayer
Sacraments of Initiation
Rite of Commissioning
This journey in faith, punctuated by liturgical rites, includes the three steps marking the catechumens’ progress. These three steps are regarded as the major and more intense moments of initiation.
Step 1 Reaching the point of initial conversion and wishing to become Christians, the Church accepts them as catechumens. Step 2 Progressing in faith and journeying towards the end of the catechumenate period, they are accepted into a more intense preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation. Step 3 Having completed their spiritual preparation, they receive the Sacraments of Christian Initiation.
The RCIA process, the catechumens’ journey in faith and the Liturgical Rites take place within the community. As such, the RCIA process, evangelical by nature, requires members of the community to collaborate and make it effective. The catechumens will come to know God by the way the community lives the gospel way of life and the care and concern offered to them, welcoming them into the community and their homes.
First Period A period of inquiry by the candidates, known as ‘the inquirers’, and evangelization and the pre-catechumenate on the part of the church. It ends with the Rite of Acceptance.
Second Period Begins with the Rite of Acceptance into the order of catechumens and may last for several years. It includes catechesis and the rites connected with catechesis. This period ends on the day of election.
Third Period flows from the Rite of Election, coincides with the Lenten preparation for the Easter celebration and the Sacraments of Initiation.
Fourth Period extends through the whole Easter season and is devoted to the post-baptismal catechesis or mystagogy. It is a time for deepening the Christian experience, spiritual growth and entering more fully into the life and unity of the community.