Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (R.C.I.A.)
Most Catholics are born into Catholic families, baptized as infants and raised in the Catholic faith. They are fully initiated members of the Church when they have been confirmed and received Eucharist.
Those who are not baptized by the “age of reason” (normally understood as seven years of age) are to come into the Church through the R.C.I.A. process (canon 852) unless there are exceptional circumstances. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the way that the Catholic Church initiates new members.
The R.C.I.A. 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), and serving with the Church community (apostolic formation).
Since the R.C.I.A. is a process, there should be no pre-determined time frame for instruction and formation. An experience of growth and conversion cannot be predicted, nor contained. For someone who is neither baptized, nor familiar with the faith, we may be doing a great injustice by expecting them to grow into active members of the Church and community in a few months time. It is recommended that the initiation of new, non-baptized members, span at least a liturgical year. In the early Church this period was normally three years, minimum.
Quite often, men and women are baptized in a non-Catholic Christian church and now wish to become Catholic. These people make a solemn profession of faith and are then confirmed and share Eucharist with the community for the first time. A person who was baptized Catholic, but not catechized or raised in the faith, also comes into full communion through this process.
There are four main periods of the R.C.I.A. process:
The Precatechumenate, or inquiry period
Purification and Enlightenment
With the exception of Purification and Enlightenment, which takes place during Lent, an ongoing R.C.I.A. process may have all periods active at any given time. Our process at St. Dominic currently has several people in the Precatechumenate, Catechumenate, and Mystagogy.
If you have any questions about the process, please call me at 471-7741 x.415