What does RCIA mean?
RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. RCIA is the process through which non-baptized adults prepare for their Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist), and through which those baptized in other Christian faiths join into full communion with the Catholic Church.
How Does One Become a Catholic?
The Catholic Church warmly welcomes new members and the RCIA process tries to provide an appropriate spiritual formation according to each person's need.
Therefore, the best way to determine HOW you can become a Catholic is to meet with the RCIA Coordinator to discuss your specific needs and discern where you are on your individual spiritual journey.
The church wants to share its life with new members and offer them support and encouragement. The parish provides sponsors who can serve as spiritual companions for those who desire to become members of the Catholic Church.
Through the various rites of the catechumenate, the church marks a person's journey to full membership. These rites reflect his or her spiritual growth and the community's loving concern.
Am I a Catechumen or Candidate?
In the RCIA process, a Catechumen is an unbaptized person who has participated in the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of the Catechumen (the first Rite of the RCIA process).
A Candidate is a baptized Christian who is preparing for reception into full communion in the Roman Catholic tradition.
Frequently candidates for full communion in the Catholic Church find certain elements of the catechumenate helpful in their preparation. For example, the focus on continuing conversion is appropriate for any Christian, especially at a time of transition. An understanding of Catholic beliefs, the practice of Catholic observances in the church year over an appropriate period of time, and the experience of Catholic community are all necessary for an informed commitment that will last.
Since candidates are already baptized, the liturgical rites that mark the steps of the formation process are different from those of catechumens. There are rites of welcoming by the parish community, a celebration of the call to continuing conversion and a penitential rite. Reception into full communion in the Catholic Church takes place with the profession of faith, Confirmation and Eucharist.
How long does it take?
Christian initiation is not a program. It is the church's way of ministering sensitively to those who seek membership. For that reason, some people will need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership in the Catholic Church. The usual length of preparation is from one to two years.
For those already baptized and who seek full communion in the Catholic Church, the time may also vary. It seems reasonable that catechumens or candidates experience the yearly calendar of Catholic practices at least one time around before they are initiated. The process of spiritual renewal and catechesis should not be hasty, especially for those not accustomed to the feasts and seasons, rites and fasts the way Catholics observe them.
The customary time for celebration of full initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, First Eucharist) is the Easter Vigil. The celebration of the Easter Vigil dramatically points to the wellspring of the church's life: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The rite of reception into full communion with the Roman Catholic church (for Candidates) can be celebrated at the Easter Vigil or at Sunday Masses throughout the year.
What is the first step?
Any person who is seriously thinking about becoming a Catholic Christian or who would simply like some more information can contact the RCIA Coordinator, Fr. Jacob Rose. You may call (309-344-3108) or email Father Rose or join us for any of the RCIA information sessions listed here.