The RCIA Process

Jesus Christ calls each of us to enter into a personal relationship with him. Our Lord Jesus Christ offers us his friendship, compassion, and forgiveness. In drawing closer to Christ many people experience a great sense of joy and inner peace as they discover God’s infinite love for them. The Holy Spirit brings us enlightenment as he strengthens and consoles us. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a process of preparing unbaptised adults for membership in the Catholic Church. The RCIA is a spiritual journey—gradually coming to know and love Jesus Christ and all that he has revealed to us about God and ourselves. Through the careful guidance of committed Catholics, one learns to live the life of a committed Christian disciple.

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) is the ordinary way in which the Catholic Church welcomes new adult members who have not yet been baptised.

Adults who have been baptised in a non-Catholic Christian community are welcome to join the Catholic Church. The process of full communion with the Catholic Church begins with a discussion with the local parish priest. During this enquiry period the person’s valid baptism is established, as well as the need for further catechetical instruction. Early in the discussions, any obstacles to the process of full communion, like divorce and remarriage, are discussed. Once obstacles have been removed, and after instruction is completed, the person can be fully initiated by the reception of the sacraments of Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Holy Communion.

Baptised adults seeking full communion with the Catholic Church do not go through RCIA in the strict sense, although some of the catechetical, pastoral, and liturgical instruction may be similar.

Unbaptised adults who are interested in becoming Catholic will typically journey through the following stages in the RCIA process of becoming Catholic:

The RCIA process begins with a period of Enquiry. This is a regular informal gathering to ask questions and engage in conversations about God, Christ, and his Church. When an individual is ready, they can meet one-on-one with the RCIA coordinator to discern moving onto the next stage. This stage is also known as the ‘Precatechumenate’ and is marked by the catechist giving the kerygma to the enquirer.

After the ‘Enquiry’ stage, the person begins the ‘Catechumenate’, which is the instructional phase of the journey. The focus of this stage is the overall faith formation of the person, and includes reflection on the Scriptures, systematic instruction (catechesis) in the Catholic beliefs and worship practices, moral formation, and prayer.

Purification and Enlightenment
After the ‘Catechumenate’, the person begins a stage of ‘Purification and Enlightenment’ starting with the Rite of Election when the Bishop, on behalf of the Church, accepts the catechumen as a candidate for reception at the Easter Vigil. This is a spiritual time full of prayer and reflection, and includes several important Rites.

Reception and Mystagogy

Reception into the Church will usually take place at the Easter Vigil. This is the highest liturgy in the Church and one of the oldest. It culminates with the bestowal of the Sacraments of Initiation. After Easter, the newly baptised person – or “neophyte” – enters into a phase of catechetical formation called “mystagogy.” This is a period of deeper reflection on the reception of the Sacraments and how one now lives the Christian life. During the Easter season, neophytes rejoice in the risen Lord and begin to practice their Catholic faith in its fullness.

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