Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults Adapted for Children/Youth (Ages 7 – 17)
Greetings Seekers, if you have come to this page, you may be seeking information about the Catholic faith and/or how one goes about becoming Roman Catholic. Each individual’s journey is different, but the process, which is modeled after early Christian times, consists of four phases. (See below)
Here at St. Juan Diego, Our RCIA participants and team meet weekly. We have groups for adults and children/youth (over 7 years old). If you would like to learn more about becoming Catholic, please contact Fr. Terry O’Connell at 503-644-1617.
The Four Phases of RCIA:
- STEP ONE: Inquiry or pre-catechumenate is a preliminary step in the journey of faith. It is a time when basic questions are answered and traditions explained. When the inquirers are ready to proceed to the next phase, the catechumenate, a ritual called the “Rite of Acceptance to the Order of Catechumens” takes place, during the Sunday Liturgy, so that the community can welcome the inquirers to the second step of their journey of faith.
- STEP TWO: The catechumenate phase involves joining with sponsors/God parents who serve as guides, companions and models of faith. Sponsors commit themselves to being a vital link between the catechumens and the community. They present the candidates to the Church and also represent the Church to the candidate throughout the RCIA process. This step is often the longest period in the RCIA, lasting from a few months to a few years, determined by the needs of the catechumen, and by the community. The catechumens are invited to worship with the community and are dismissed after the Liturgy of the Word with their catechists to ponder the Scripture readings they have just heard. When the catechumens are ready to respond totally to God’s call to faith through the Sacraments of Initiation, the RCIA provides a ritual, the Rite of Election, to mark this step in the conversion process. Prior to the Rite of Election which is celebrated by the Archbishop at St. James Cathedral during the first week in Lent, the Catechumens come before the community of St. Jude’s on the first Sunday of Lent at their normal Dismissal time for the Rite of Sending. The ritual provides an opportunity for the catechumens to officially request entrance to the Church through the Easter Sacraments of Initiation, and for the community to respond to that request by saying, “We confirm God’s call to faith in your life, and will welcome you into the Church this Easter.” During the Rite of Election, the Archbishop formally “elects” the Catechumens for the Sacraments of Initiation at the East Vigil and their names are written in the Book of the Elect.
STEP THEE The Elect enter into a “40-day retreat” (the Church’s Lenten period) to focus on deepening their awareness of God’s grace through prayer. During this time the Church also celebrates other rituals with the Elect, called “Scrutinies.” These are prayers of healing prayed by the community (on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of Lent) that the Elect will have the strength to withstand evil, and remain pure and free from sin as they journey toward initiation and growth in faith. While we minister to the Elect, they provide a visible reminder to each of us of the meaning and purpose of Lent, and minister to us through their presence. Finally the night of the Easter Vigil arrives — at which the Sacraments of Initiation are celebrated and the Elect are made one with the Body of Christ called Church. The community says, Now you belong, for you have been born again of water and spirit. Come, you are welcome at the Table of the Lord.”
THE FOURTH STEP: The concluding part of the journey to faith is called the “Mystagogia”, which comes from the word, mystery. In the early Church it was the time when the community explained the mystery of the sacraments the catechumens had experienced. Today, this step is seen more as time for the newly initiated and the community to move forward together toward a closer relationship with each other and toward a deeper understanding of God’s Word, of the sacraments, and of everyday Christian life. The RCIA place this step during the Easter Season (the 50 days between Easter and Pentecost). In reality, this step in the journey continues for the rest of the Christian’s life along with the entire community of the faithful.