Ever since the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, the Catholic Church has preached the Gospel and welcomed people from every corner of the world to join her as disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is the very identity of the Catholic Church, to spread the Good News to all nations. Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he told his apostles:
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.
Today, the Catholic Church continues this mission and invites everyone to “come and see.” (John 1:46) The ordinary way that most people become Catholic is through a process that is a modern adaptation of the ancient method of the first centuries of the Church. This process is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, abbreviated as "R.C.I.A."
R. C. I. A.
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
FOR ADULTS WHO ARE
Baptized in a Christian Faith
Baptized Catholic and need to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation
RCIA is a process of becoming fully initiated into the Catholic Christian faith. RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. “Rite” because initiation into the Catholic Church happens during Liturgies (Masses) in the context of the parish’s faith community.
RCIA involves several stages which together help someone move from an initial motivation to deeper relationship with Jesus and his Church. The high point of this process is the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist) which are ordinarily received by adults at the Easter Vigil Mass.
The Catholic Church honors baptism as a sacrament that may be validly received even in Christian communities and traditions that are not Catholic. Therefore, we never re-baptize those who have already received a valid baptism. Those who have already been baptized are prepared to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church and receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion at the time of their reception.
The Church understands that people approach the Catholic Church for a variety of reasons. That is why the RCIA process begins with what is typically called Inquiry, a time to learn basic teachings of Catholicism, find answers to questions, and begin to experience the community life of their parish church. For the unbaptized who are ready to make a formal commitment to learning the faith and preparing for the sacraments, the Rite of Acceptance is celebrated (a similar ceremony called the Rite of Welcoming is for the baptized).
The catechumens (those not yet baptized) and the candidates (those who are already baptized) enter a period of fuller participation in the community through the study of the Sunday Scripture readings and their message. Transition to the period of Purification and Enlightenment is through the rites of Sending and Election on the 1st Sunday of Lent.
Purification and Enlightenment
The candidates and catechumens, now termed “The Elect” begin a more intense period leading up to the Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil). At the Vigil, those who are to be baptized are baptized, those who come from other Christian churches make a profession of faith, and all three groups are Confirmed, and some receive their First Holy Communion. From this point, the newly baptized are known as “neophytes”.
Between Easter and Pentecost, the neophytes examine the meaning of the Rites they have experienced and enter more deeply into the mystery of the Christian life. We invite you to respond to this good news and consider becoming Catholic!
We invite you to respond to this good news and consider becoming Catholic!