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Here, we'll provide an overview of the RCIA process:
The RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) Process
Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate
This is a time of no fixed duration or structure. During this period inquirers are introduced to Jesus Christ, basic Gospel values and rudimentary prayer. Sessions allow inquirers to ask questions, share stories, build community, and discern where God is leading them in their journey of faith.
First Step: Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens
This rite is celebrated two or three times a year in most parishes. In this rite, inquirers declare their intention publicly to the Church and the Church accepts their intent to follow God’s call to follow Christ. From this point on, they are called "catechumens" and the Church embraces them with a mother's love and concern. Though not yet baptized, catechumens are part of the household of Christ.
Period of Catechumenante
This is an extended period of time in which catechumens are given formal instruction in the Christian way of life and the doctrines of the Catholic Church. They also begin to learn about Catholic worship. This period normally lasts about 18 months so that catechumens can experience an entire liturgical year, according to the adage: "you have to live through an Easter to have an Easter."
Second Step: Rite of Election
The Rite of Election coincides with the beginning of Lent and is celebrated with the Bishop. The Rite of Sending is normally celebrated at the local parish before the Rite of Election. Godparents and catechists testify as to the readiness of the catechumens for the sacraments of initiation. At this point the catechumens are now called the "elect."
Period of Purification and Enlightenment
This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation and takes place during the six weeks of Lent. It is a time characterized more by prayerful reflection rather than formal instruction, although some instruction still takes place. This period is intended to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ. Rites belonging to this period include the scrutinies, the presentations of the Creed and Lord's Prayer, and the preparation rites on Holy Saturday.
- Third Step: The Sacraments of Initiation
The moment we've all been waiting for! Initiation takes place at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night before Easter Sunday. Now fully intiated into the Church, the elect are called "neophytes" (meaning "new plant" or "sprout").
Period of Mystogogy
This is a period in which the neophytes, together with the community, deepen their understanding of the sacramental life and works of charity. Post baptismal catechesis is offered to the neophytes so that they may deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery, become a more committed member of the Church and a faithful witness of Christ to the world.
Baptized Christian Adults and Children of Catechetical Age
Baptized Roman Catholic Adults and Children of Catechetical Age
This is a time of no fixed duration or structure. Sessions allow inquirers to ask questions, to share their stories, build community, pray and deepen their understanding of the Gospel values.
- Rite of Welcoming the Candidates
This is a liturgical rite that is celebrated two or three times a year and can be combined with the Rite of Acceptance for catechumens. The inquirers declare their intention publicly to the Church and the Church accepts their intent to follow God’s call to follow Christ.
Preparation for the candidates, for the most part, corresponds to the preparation of catechumens. There is no set time frame for catechesis for the candidates, as they will be received in the church as the team and candidate discern the readiness of the candidate.
- Rite of Reception
The reception of candidates should ordinarily take place at the Sunday Eucharist. Candidates that are received into the Church must also be immediately confirmed and receive their first Eucharist.
This is a period in which the newly received, deepen their sacramental life with emphasis on the gospel, the Eucharist, and works of charity. Post baptismal catechesis is offered to the neophytes that they may deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery.