Welcome! The following is an explanation of the process by which you can learn more about the Catholic faith. We hope this is helpful to you!
The formation of adults and the process by which they are initiated into the Catholic Church is known as the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" or the "RCIA."
The RCIA is for those who are unbaptized to help them become aware of God's call and how to respond. They are considered catechumens. Those persons who are baptized in another Christian faith, and baptized but uncatechized Catholic adults (not given any religious upbringing within the Catholic tradition) are considered candidates.
The RCIA process is one of learning and discernment for adults who may be interested in knowing more about the Catholic faith. The program is based on instruction of the teachings and doctrine of the Church, the importance of Scripture, prayer, reflection, sharing, being involved, growing in faith and conversion. So, the RCIA is not a program, but a sacramental formation process that prepares individuals for a way of life with God. Conversion is the heart of that way of life, and the RCIA facilitates the conversion experience. Conversion is a turning around, a transformation. In religious terms, conversion is the surrender of oneself to the all-loving God, who calls each of us to fullness of life. At Saint Thomas More, the clergy, RCIA team, sponsors and parish community share in the journey of the candidates.
The RCIA is one rite, however, it is divided into various stages that respect the individuals journey of faith. The first period of the journey is called Inquiry (or the precatechumenate). Stories are shared and questions answered. The sessions are based on growing in understanding of the Mass, the traditions and mission of the church, the saints, and personal spirituality. This period is followed by a retreat with the team and sponsors, and if the inquirers are ready, the celebration of the Rite of Welcome and Acceptance with the parish community. Following the Rite, the candidates participate in dismissals during the Sunday Mass to share in Breaking Open the Word (deeper study of the Old and New Testament Scriptures). This is a part of the process of formation to the Gospel.
The second stage is called the catechumenate period, and this period is the length of time the catechumens and candidates require to live their faith journey within the support of the parish community. In the catechumenate period, the sessions are more in depth and focus on learning about the Bible, the life of the Church through the seven sacraments and the life of the parish community. This stage is followed by the Rites of Sending and Election. The catechumans then become the "elect."
The third stage is the period of purification and enlightenment. It is a time of intense spiritual preparation that occurs during Lent (the forty days not counting the Sundays before Easter). During this time, the elect and candidates prepare for sacramental initiation on Holy Saturdays (the eve of Easter Sunday). This period ends with the celebration of Baptism of the elect, and all receive the sacrament of Confirmation and are welcomed at the Eucharistic table at Easter Vigil.
The fourth period is the time after Easter called mystagogy whereby the newly initiated have the opportunity to reflect on the experiences of the sacraments received on Holy Saturdays and to explore full participation through appropriate catechesis and with the faithful at Eucharist. This period formally lasts through the Easter season and ends with a celebration near Pentecost.
Mystagogy is a lifelong process, one in which all Christians are engaged to live so as to grow deeper in faith and the way of what it means to live the Christian life.
The entire process is to help facilitate individual conversions, to faciliate the possibility of being in love with God. At Saint Thomas More Church, the RCIA meets for a period of approximately one year, but a candidate may choose to remain in the program for a longer period of time, each on their individual journey. The relationship of the candidate with God is the most important aspect of the time frame.
RCIA meets on Wednesday evenings, 6:45 to 8:30, in the family life building.
For More Information
information please call Jo Dorsett, 801-942-5285 ext. 12.
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