Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
How does one Become Catholic Today?
The decision to become Catholic is not one to be made lightly—or apart from community. So the Church provides a process known as RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, to help people to learn more about what we believe and practice as Catholics, to discern their call, and to become fully initiated if they so desire.
For more information, contact a representative in the Christian Formation office.
Inquiry Period is an informal time of initial questioning and exploring to give the person a chance to see if they wish to commit to the process (not to becoming Catholic) of RCIA. The first discernment is whether to enter the process or not.
Rite of Welcome
The Rite of Welcome marks the official entrance into the process, and the beginning of a relationship with the community. Sponsors are assigned from the parish, which both represent the candidate or catechumen to the community and the community to them.
Catechumens are not yet baptized Christian, and Candidates are those who were baptized in another Christian tradition.
Period of Enlightenment
The Period of Enlightenment is a lengthy time of deeper exploration of the Catholic faith and practice, which gives both a structural understanding of Catholic beliefs, and an experiential knowledge of our lived faith in our lives and worship. This includes both catechetical sessions: generally on Monday evenings twice a month, and Sunday mornings Breaking Open the Word (BOW), when we delve into Sunday‘s Scriptures and reflect on what they mean in our lives today.
Discernment after this period is more aware and intentional, but not yet final. The person makes a prayerful decision whether to prepare for the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism (unless already baptized), Confirmation and Eucharist.
Rite of Election
The Rite of Election officially recognizes the progress of the persons and their intention to be initiated at the Easter Vigil. It is held at the Cathedral, where the Archbishop or Bishop accepts them into the Church preliminarily. Those who will be baptized are now called Elect, and their names are entered into the Book of the Elect. Early Church teachings held that if anyone died, especially for the faith, while an Elect, they would be considered part of the Communion of Saints.
Period of Purification
The Period of Purification offers a deepening of the person‘s spiritual life, with special emphasis on forgiveness of sins.
For Candidates, this means the Penitential Rite, where the congregation prays over them, and also their reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
For Catechumens, it means three Scrutinies, where the congregation prays over them for their purification, and then their Baptism, which forgives all sins.
Final Discernment at this point means that they have decided to be fully initiated, and their sponsors and the RCIA Team agree and recommend them.
Full Initiation into the Catholic Church takes place during the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Adults and older children profess their faith and are immersed in the Baptismal font. Then, they and the Candidates, are Confirmed in the Holy Spirit, and welcomed to the Table of the Lord at Eucharist. They are now fully Catholic.
Period of Mystagogia
The Period of Mystagogia follows Initiation, and during this time the newly-initiated are helped to reflect on their experience and to look ahead at how they will live out their new faith within the community and beyond.