For more information, please contact our office for religious education or click to view the Diocese of Bridgeport’s full RCIA Overview (abridged below).
Christian Initiation – An Overview
What is the RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the official text of the Church’s rituals supporting the way of faith and conversion by which adults are initiated into the Catholic Church. The acronym “RCIA:’ is often used to refer to the whole process of Christian Initiation.
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was reintroduced in 1972 as the way by which adults will be initiated into the Catholic Church. In 1988, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops published the ritual text we now use. Although this process may seem new, it is a return to a former practice that was integral to the growth of the early Church.
For the first 300 years the Church existed in a pagan world and suffered much persecution, so that often its members were required to give up their lives for the faith they professed. Thus, those who desired to join the Church had to understand fully what it meant to be a Christian. They also had to undergo a complete change in their lives, giving up all that tied them to the pagan culture. The process, or catechumenate, by which they underwent this change, often took one to three years so that, upon entrance into the Church, they were ready to take on the full responsibilities of being a Christian.
Christian Initiation is a process of conversion. Initiation is a process that involves the whole parish community. Evangelization in Christian Initiation.
Brief Outline of the Initiation Process
PERIOD OF EVANGELIZATION AND THE PRECATECHUMENATE
This is a time, for inquiry and introduction to Gospel values, an opportunity for the beginning of faith.
ACCEPTANCE INTO THE ORDER OF CATECHUMENS
This is the liturgical rite, usually celebrated on some annual date or dates, marking the beginning of the catechumenate proper, as the candidates express and the Church accepts their intention to respond to God’s call and to follow the way of Christ.
PERIOD OF THE CATECHUMENATE
This is the time, in duration corresponding to the progress of the individual,for the nurturing and growth of the catechumens’ faith and conversion to God; celebrations of the word, prayers, and blessings are meant to assist the process.
ELECTION AND ENROLLMENT OF NAMES
This is the liturgical rite, usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent, by which the Church formally ratifies the catechumens’ readiness for the sacraments of initiation and the catechumens, now the elect, express the will to receive these sacraments.
PERIOD OF PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT
This is usually the Lenten season preceding the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil; it is a time of reflection for both the elect and the parish community, intensely centered on conversion, marked by the celebration of the scrutinies and presentations and of the preparation rites on Holy Saturday.
CELEBRATION OF THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION
This is the liturgical rite, usually integrated into the Easter Vigil by which the elect are initiated through Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
PERIOD OF POSTBAPTISMAL CATECHESIS OR MYSTAGOGY
This is the time, usually the Easter season following the celebration of initiation. during which the newly initiated experience being fully a part of the Christian community by means of pertinent catechesis and particularly by participation with all the faithful in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration.