RCIA – Policies and Practices

Policy and Practice of Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

The primary intention of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is for those who are unbaptised and commencing the preparation process to receive the sacraments of initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.

RCIA provides the framework and inspiration for a Parish community as it ministers to a person who has made the commitment to set on the path of adult initiation (which also incorporates children of a catechetical age) in the Catholic Church.

Four major periods, separated by various liturgical rituals, make up the initiation process. These rituals celebrate and express what is occurring at each stage of the process.

How do I become a member of the Catholic community?

There are many different factors that can act as a catalyst to bring people to the Catholic ‘door’; seeking answers into a person’s own spirituality or spurred on by a simple curiosity in the sense of ‘something missing’ in one’s life.

The search may be started by one’s life experiences, but the question “What is Catholicism all about?” is usually brought about by an encounter with a Catholic.

This encounter does not happen instantaneously. The relationship and commitment to God through Jesus Christ and God’s creation is a progressive development. Conversion to the Living God and a commitment in faith to Christ as Lord moves in a gradual progression, culminating in a sense of mission. It takes a period of time for faith to grow and mature. The person involved in this process is called a Catechumen.

No pressure is put to bear to continue at any point of the process. It is a time of prayer, sharing and reflection. It is a time to take the opportunity to explore questions and concerns. So that myths and misconceptions can be laid to rest, sessions are designed to provide accurate information with no strings attached.   In the usual course of events, the process takes at least one liturgical cycle (ie. 12 months) and culminates in the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. This amount of time is not to facilitate the learning of “all doctrine”, but in principle to allow time to acquire values and a way of living. To hear the teachings of Jesus Christ in one cycle of the liturgical calendar takes 12 months. The person’s “becoming” will take a lifetime.

The process by which a person comes into the Catholic Church, incorporating periods and rituals, is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).

The experience of RCIA is not just a private or individual one because the whole community, through its various ministries, exercises its responsibilities: Bishop, priests, deacons, catechists, godparents and sponsors, as well as all members of the Catholic community who pray and guide the newcomer in the catholic way of life. A person will never be alone on this journey but is supported by a prayerful, loving community.

If you are interested or curious, please contact your local Parish Office. The community will share their faith with you and help guide you in the life and mission of the Catholic Church through prayer and service. Whenever you are ready, you are welcome to begin attending Mass at your local Catholic Church, however you would not yet be able to receive Holy Communion.

Speaking with the priest after Mass is an option, however he is often busy and unable to take down details at that time. Please do introduce yourself and make a commitment to call him during the week to follow up.

You will be appointed a sponsor

The role of the sponsor is that of a mentor. During the course of companioning the Catechumen on the journey to the Sacraments, a sponsor shares his or her own experience and beliefs. Sponsors offer guidance, counsel, encouragement and honest feedback. The spiritual care of the community beyond the weekly sessions is extended by the sponsor in various ways: a coffee meeting where the Catechumen can ask questions not comfortably raised within group sessions, or invitations to social or parish community events where the Catechumen can be introduced to community members. Spiritual support in the form of prayer for and with the Catechumen is also offered by the sponsor.

I am already baptised, how do I become Catholic?

 “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The Church wants to ensure that no unnecessary obstacles or burdens are placed on the path of anyone who wishes to become a Catholic. The Church is committed to helping a Christian enquirer to deepen their faith and to offer an opportunity to gain a thorough appreciation and understanding of Catholic beliefs and practice.

The formation and catechesis constituting the preparation of reception into the Catholic Church (by receiving the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist for the first time) will depend on the person’s background and what is considered the requirements for living a full and active Catholic life. Whilst many fundamental beliefs may be held in common, not all Catholic traditions and doctrines are shared by all.

The preparation process does take time, however, does not need to be protracted. Once a person and their parish community discern an understanding of the fundamental traditions and beliefs of Catholicism, the person can be initiated into the Church.

If you are interested or curious, please contact your local Parish Office. The community will share their faith with you and help guide you in the life and mission of the Catholic Church through prayer and service. Speaking with the priest after Mass is an option, however he is often busy and unable to take down details at that time. Please do introduce yourself and make a commitment to call him during the week to follow up.

Will I be baptized again in the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church acknowledges and respects the Baptism of anyone who was baptized with flowing water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Baptism cannot be repeated as it is the sacrament of our rebirth in Christ and our immersion into his saving death and resurrection. Being claimed by Christ in Baptism forever marks us as sons and daughters of God.

What is involved in the reception into the Catholic Church of someone who is baptized?

Following a sufficient period of preparation through catechesis, worship and prayer, and an introduction to Catholic life, mission and values, a Christian will be asked to make a profession of faith. This profession signifies their expression of acceptance of Catholic teaching and to give a clear intention to live as a Catholic. Once this affirmation has been expressed, the Christian is sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation and will receive Holy Communion at the table of the Eucharist.  The name of this ritual is the Rite of Reception of Baptized Christians in the full communion of the Catholic Church.