T he Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which people become members of the Roman Catholic Church. The process is concerned with the total formation of the person into believing with the Church community (doctrinal formation), living with the Church community (practical formation), praying with the Church community (liturgical formation), and serving with the Church community (apostolic formation). This gradual development culminates in the celebration of the initiation sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist at Easter time.

If your child or children have been baptized but have not received First Penance or First Eucharist, and they are in the fourth grade or higher, they should be enrolled in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC) in order to receive those sacraments.

If you or anyone you know is interested in the Catholic Faith (RCIA or RCIC), please contact Fr. Clark or Deacon Rick Moser for more information. Classes for both RCIA and RCIC will begin in the fall.

History of Christian Initiation of Adults

From the beginning of Christianity, there has been a period of instruction for anyone wishing to become Christian. By 215 AD a full catechumenate was in existence. First one had to be presented to the leaders of the Church by other Christians who were witnesses or sponsors to the motives and life of the candidate seeking Baptism. The normal period of time in the catechumenate was three years. The candidates were encouraged to pray frequently, fast and do other penitential exercises. Their instruction consisted of studying scripture, the Apostles Creed and other available sources of instruction in the faith. At the end of the period of instruction, there was an examination. They were not examined so much on perfect knowledge of doctrine, but rather on the manner of their lives (did they show example of living a true Christian lifestyle). Over the next two or three centuries, there were some variations in this procedure. At times, the catechumens were allowed to attend Mass only through the end of the readings. After finishing their instruction and Baptism, they were then permitted to participate fully in the whole Mass. Very often the season of Lent was to be spent in great preparation for Baptism at Easter. The candidates often spent this time in a great deal of prayer and penitential exercises. They also went through what was called the scrutinies. These were not examinations but more of a call into the Church and a renunciation of Satan and all evil (sometimes called exorcism).

Sometime after the sixth century the period of the catechumenate disappeared. This was probably due to the fact that adult baptism became rare and infant baptism had become the norm with the period of instruction following Baptism. Until the time of Vatican II in the early 1960s, adults wishing to become members of the Church would go individually through whatever preparation the local priest would have them do. Vatican II wished to restore the spirit of the original catechumenate and instituted the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).