Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Dear Fellow Parishioners,
As Lent approaches, we are all reminded that this is a time of personal reflection, repentance, and preparation for the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is a particularly important time for the men and women in our parish family who are completing the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
We have been involved with this formation ministry for over 15-years. At the time, we were new in the parish and were looking for ways to get involved, when we saw a notice in the bulletin that sponsors for RCIA were needed.
Ginny pursued this and found out that they were badly in need of a catechist for the RCIC (Rite of Christian Initiation of Children). Having had experience working with children and as a catechist, this felt like a natural fit. After two years, she became a RCIA team member, and shortly thereafter Dick joined the team.
We have made lasting friendships with deeply committed and faith-filled parishioners who have gone through the process or have been team members and/or sponsors. We continue to learn about our faith and have had the joy of knowing so many new members of our parish. They become like our spiritual children. We have celebrated weddings and baptisms of their children with them. We can’t come to Mass without seeing someone from one of our RCIA classes. Many of them are very active in the ministries of the church. It is so gratifying!
This year we have six Catechumens, those seeking Baptism, and seven Candidates, those asking to be to become fully initiated members of the Church by making a Profession of Faith.
They entered the first stage of this process, Inquiry, in September. After those four weeks they discerned that they were called to continue this journey and began the second phase, the Catechumenate.
This is a period of study of the Creed and other important precepts of the Catholic Church. Following this period, they again discerned with their sponsors and the RCIA team to decide if they are ready to enter the third phase, Purification and Enlightenment. This period takes place during Lent.
Purification and Enlightenment is a time of prayer, reflection, and deepening faith. Those of you attending the 9:00 a.m. Mass will be witness to parts of this process. On the first Sunday of Lent we will have the Rite of Sending. The parish will acknowledge that these individuals have completed their period of preparation and are sent, with our blessing and prayers, to the Cathedral for the Rite of Election.
Each one, accompanied by his or her sponsor, will be greeted personally and welcomed by Archbishop Lucas. As a pledge of fidelity, the Catechumens, the non-baptized, will inscribe their names in a book that lists those who have been chosen for initiation. They are now formally known as the Elect.
The following Saturday the Elect, the Candidates, and their sponsors will make a day-long retreat lead by the RCIA core team. This time is spent in reflection, discernment, and prayer to strengthen their relationship with God.
On the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent we celebrate rites called “Scrutinies.” They are meant to uncover all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of those seeking full initiation, and to bring out and strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. These rites have the same effect on all who prayerfully participate in them, as we invite each of you to do.
Holy Week is the last intense preparation for the Elect and Candidates, starting with their receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation on Tuesday. They will participate with the special services of Holy Week, and at the Easter Vigil Mass, the Elect will be formally received into full communion with the Catholic Church by receiving the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
Those who come to us validly baptized are formally received into full communion through a Profession of Faith and reception of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
The fourth and final phase of the RCIA is period of post-baptismal catechesis known as Mystogogy. The focus of this is to integrate the new members into the parish and to help them discern how they can fulfill the parish mission to “Go and make disciples.” Some of you will be asked to talk about the ministries that you are involved in during this time.
God has blessed us with these new members of our spiritual family, and we hope each of you will welcome, nurture, and pray for them.
We are working toward a more all-inclusive approach to the RCIA process in our parish. The Holy Spirit does not wait until late summer to inspire individuals to take this step in their life. The call can come at any time and we as the faithful need to be ready to respond to this.
We are therefore moving toward involving those already involved in active ministry to reach out to those called and welcome them by sharing your experience with them. You will learn more about this new step in the near future. We trust you will answer this call with joy.
Dick and Ginny Weston