Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) The Process of Becoming a Catholic
Adults and children who have reached the age of reason (age seven), who are unbaptized or baptized in another Christian faith tradition and seek to embrace the Catholic faith, participate in an initiation process called the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). Both adults and children are fully initiated into the Catholic Church during this process, celebrating Baptism, if needed, Confirmation, and First Eucharist.
Inquiry Immaculate Conception offers a year-round RCIA process, so a person may enter the first phase, as an Inquirer, at any time throughout the year. Inquirers bring their questions about Christianity and Catholicism to the meetings which are led by members of the RCIA team.
During the Inquiry phase, there are no expectations for participation and no obligation to make any commitments. Participants may remain in this phase for as long as is comfortable for them. Participants may choose to attend one week and not return for some weeks or months. They are happily welcomed back whenever they return.
The focus of the Inquiry phase is to address the concerns and questions of the participants and to provide a basic understanding of what it means to embrace the Roman Catholic faith. Some participants will decide that the Catholic faith is right for them. Others may decide not to further pursue the process at this time. Check the weekly bulletin for the schedule of meeting times.
Catechumenate For those who decide to become a member of the Catholic Church, the next step is a transition into the second phase of the RCIA, called the Catechumenate. The transition is marked by an Entrance Rite, celebrated during a weekend Liturgy. It is more structured than the Inquiry phase, and participants are expected to attend as many of the Catechumenate sessions as possible. As in the Inquiry phase, there is no set length of time for this phase.
The curriculum for the Catechumenate is based on the Lectionary readings as well as the needs of the members of the Catechumenate. Those in the Catechumenate who are unbaptized are called Catechumens. Those baptized in another Christian faith tradition are referred to as Candidates. All are expected to attend Liturgy once each weekend.
During one of the liturgies, after the Liturgy of the Word, participants in the Catechumenate are ‘sent forth’ (‘dismissed’) to discuss the weekend's readings as the remaining members of the community continue to celebrate the Liturgy.
Purification and Enlightenment This third phase of the RCIA process immediately precedes the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. The focus of this period is on prayer and spiritual reflection. For those preparing for Baptism, this phase takes place during the season of Lent, as Catechumens prepare for full initiation at the Easter Vigil. For those who are baptized and seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, the period of Purification and Enlightenment and Sacraments of Initiation may be celebrated at different times of the year.
Mystagogy This fourth phase of the RCIA process occurs after one has become a fully initiated member of the Catholic Church. It is a time to ponder one’s experience of the sacraments, as well as a time to reflect on how to live as a Catholic Christian.