RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS

(RCIA)

Interested in the Catholic faith?
Have questions about Catholicism?
Curious about the Catholic way of life?

 


The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a program for adults ages 16 and up, who are interested in investigating the Catholic faith.

The RCIA program guides adults into the Catholic faith. It is ideal for people who have been baptized, but have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and the Holy Eucharist. Additionally,  for those wanting to enter into the family of the Catholic Church. 


Modeled after the catechumenate of the early Church, RCIA consists of periods of awakening, growth and formation. Collecitivelty The catechumens attend Mass and classes to learn more about the faith through lectures, sharing and praying together. 

At St. Bernadette’s, the RCIA process starts in late September and consists of weekly catechetical sessions, rites and celebrations, usually on Sunday nights at 7:30pm. For those interested in joining the Catholic Church or learning more about the Catholic faith, please contact the parish office 905-683-1533

Sponsors are very important to the RCIA. They are witnesses to and members of our community, who share the journey of faith with the inquirers. Are you willing to share your faith with someone wishing to learn more about the Catholic Church? If so, please join us and reap the benefits of helping spread the "Good News".

THE RCIA JOURNEY

Inquiry

In this first period, people seek answers to their questions about the Catholic faith --- and they receive the true answers. Perhaps they have heard information about the faith that needs to be clarified or expanded. Or maybe they never knew what certain teachings were. These informal discussions help inquirers to acquaint themselves with the Catholic Church and hear the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Inquiry lasts as long as an inquirer needs it to last. This may mean a few months or a year --- or even longer. The foremost question is: Do I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Tradition? 
During this period, inquirers may decide to consider becoming members of the Catholic Church. If so, they enter into another period of the R.C.I.A. journey: the Catechumenate. This transition is marked by the Rite of Acceptance.

Catechumenate 

This period is the first step in the commitment leading to full membership in the Catholic Church. "Catechumenate" means "time of serious study." The candidates and catechumens already have come to faith in Christ Jesus and long to become members of the Church. They join the Catholic community at Mass on Sunday, celebrating the Liturgy of the Word together. However, because they are not yet in communion with the believers, they are "dismissed" or sent out with an R.C.I.A. team member to reflect upon the Sunday readings and feed upon the Word of the Lord. 

This time nurtures union with Christ through sharing faith and witnessing in a small and intimate community of faith. Catechumens and candidates also are given godparents and sponsors as companions in the faith journey. Stories from the Sunday lectionary, Scripture and personal experiences encourage a readiness of spirit for membership in the Church. In this period, the initial conversion is deepened and strengthened. The love and knowledge for the Lord and His Church grows. This stage lasts as long as one needs it to, from a year to several years. For the unbaptized, this period must last at least 12 months. If ready, the candidates and catechumens go through the Rite of Election. After that rite, they are called "the elect." 

Purification & enlightenment

In this first period, people seek answers to their questions about the Catholic faith --- and they receive the true answers. Perhaps they have heard information about the faith that needs to be clarified or expanded. Or maybe they never knew what certain teachings were. These informal discussions help inquirers to acquaint themselves with the Catholic Church and hear the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Inquiry lasts as long as an inquirer needs it to last. This may mean a few months or a year --- or even longer. The foremost question is: Do I want to be a follower of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Tradition? 
During this period, inquirers may decide to consider becoming members of the Catholic Church. If so, they enter into another period of the R.C.I.A. journey: the Catechumenate. This transition is marked by the Rite of Acceptance.

Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

The sacraments of initiation are celebrated at the Easter Vigil. It is the most significant moment of the liturgical year. On this night, the elect enter fully into the Church. The Catholic family grows, and the Church joyfully now welcomes its new brothers and sisters. 
 

 

The Easter Vigil is marked by: 
Blessing of water --- The presider prays that God will make the water holy so that all baptized in it will be washed clean of sin and welcomed into the family of believers as children of God. 

Renunciation of sin by the elect --- The elect are asked together if they resolve to reject sin and live as God's children. 

Anointing with the oil of catechumens --- The elect are anointed with the oil of catechumens on the hands, the breast and, depending on local custom. During the anointing, the celebrant prays for the elect to be strengthened by the power of God. 

Profession of faith --- The candidates are questioned regarding their belief in the mysteries of the faith outlined in the Apostles' Creed. 

Baptism --- The candidates are baptized in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. As the priest prays this, the candidates are either immersed in water or water is poured over their head. 

Clothing with the baptismal garment --- The neophytes, as they are now called after being baptized, are clothed with a simple white robe. This symbolizes their new life in Christ. 

Presentation of a lighted candle --- The godparents come forward to receive a candle lighted from the paschal candle then present it to the neophytes, symbolizing the enlightenment received through Christ. 

Laying on of hands --- The minister of the sacrament lays his hands over those to be confirmed, praying that God will send the Holy Spirit to them, as the apostles received the Spirit through Confirmation and laid hands on others in their missions. 

Anointing with chrism --- The godparent or sponsor comes forward and puts a right hand on the candidate's shoulder. The minister makes the sign of the cross with chrism on the forehead of each candidate and prays they may be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. 

Liturgy of the Eucharist --- The newly initiated now join the community in celebrating the Eucharistic banquet, receiving the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the first time. 

Mystagogy

From Easter through Pentecost, the neophytes -- the "new shoots" -- reflect upon the sacraments received and their call to the mission of Christ. This period allows them to look for new ways to live a life of grace, both personally and in community.