R.C.I.A./Becoming Catholic

RCIA Thank You!  At the Easter Vigil, we celebrated beautifully the Sacraments of Initiation for 10 individuals.  The joy on their faces spoke volumes of the depth of their love for Christ.  Thank you to our new Catholics for your witness of faith.
 
Thank you to Mick Gillen and our 2017 RCIA team for all your hard work and dedication this year.  We had many volunteers pull together to offer sessions and other opportunities for our candidates to encounter Christ and His Church.  It wouldn’t have been possible without you.
 
Have you considered being a part of the 2017-2018 RCIA team?  We are in need of 8 more individuals to be a part of this process, journeying with those who are exploring the Catholic Faith.  Give me a call (or email) at the parish office if you are interested in helping out.  We will also need sponsors for candidates, so if you would like to be considered as a sponsor please call too.

What is RCIA and Who is it for?

R.C.I.A. (or simply "RCIA") stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults - and is the prime way in which adults enter the Church as un-baptized or baptized individuals. RCIA is a gradual process of Christian initiation that takes place within the community of the faithful and is for all adults who:
 
       1. are unbaptized and would like to be received fully into the Catholic Church through Baptism;
       2. have been baptized in another Christian community and seek full reception into the Catholic Church;
       3. have been baptized Catholic as infants but have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
 

The 4 Periods and 3 Gateways of RCIA

 
1. Period of the Precatechumenate (or Inquiry)
Time of evangelization and introduction to basic Catholic life, prayers, liturgical actions and teachings. Inquirers strive to open their hearts to Gospel and the workings of the Holy Spirit and be freely converted to the Lord and commit themselves to Him.

Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens / Rite of Welcoming

 
2. Period of the Catechumenate
Period of pastoral formation and suitable instruction in the teachings of the Catholic Faith as well as a time to develop spiritually in prayer both individually and communally. Candidates and Catechumens receive special blessings and prayers on Sundays and participate in Breaking Open the Word.

Rite of Election / Call to Continuing Conversion

 
3. Period of Purification and Enlightenment
Beginning the first Sunday in Lent this is an intense period of prayer, continued instruction in the Faith and discernment in preparation for the sacraments of initiation. Candidates and Catechumens continue to receive special blessings and prayers on Sundays and participate in Breaking Open the Word. Presentations made of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

Sacraments of Initiation – Easter Vigil

 
4. Period of Postbaptismal Catechesis (or Mystagogy) and the Neophyte Year
Period between Easter and Pentecost dedicated to deepen the Christian experience, for spiritual growth and for entering more fully into the life and unity of the community. The newly baptized begin their neophyte year.

Discerning the call

Discerning the call to become Catholic involves an investment of time, study and prayer. Inquiry also known as Precatechumenate normally meets year round on the First and Third Sunday at 9:30 am in Parish office building. Participation in all four periods of RCIA is required for completing the process of initiation. Please call the office to register.


A History of RCIA

R.C.I.A. has been around since the early Church - and was the method in which the Church prepared un-baptized adults to be received into the Christian Church (which later became known as the Catholic Church). The R.C.I.A. process was an intense period of study, prayer, and conversion which (in the Church's early days) often lasted up to three years. During the process, a sponsor would testify to the entire assembly of the conversion, authenticity, and genuine readiness of the individual. After some time, the process was put aside and in its place private preparation was used.


RCIA in the Modern Era

The Second Vatican Council brought back the R.C.I.A. process in keeping with the spirit of communal participation of the whole Church. Inquirers enter into a public process, are formed in community, and integrated into the life of the Church through that community.

Keeping in the spirit of the original preparation, the base elements of study, prayer, community, and discernment remain and are integral, though persons may now possibly enter the Church in a shorter time-frame, based on his/her needs. There is no set time for an RCIA process to run; it varies from parish to parish, and with person-to-person.

The decision to accept baptism, or to become a Catholic, or to complete one's Catholic initiation must be the free will of each person. The Catholic Church does not coerce, guilt, nor do we manipulate this decision. A person does not have to make a decision by the Easter Vigil; each person is free to discern for as long as necessary until they are ready to make a decision.

Regardless of a person's age or circumstances, the Church is tasked with the duties, rights, and responsibilities to ensure that each individual meets the requirements set out by the Code of Canon Law, as well as publicly demonstrates the desire, readiness, and lifestyle that reflects acceptance and understanding of the Gospel and becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

 

Is RCIA for you?

Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is for anyone who has reached the age of reason. The Church defines this age as 7 years old. Therefore, an adult who fits in one of the categories below may be a candidate for RCIA:

- Never baptized, or baptism was not in the Trinitarian formula with water;
- Baptized in the Trinitarian formula with water in a Christian church;
- Baptized & Confirmed Catholic  and lacking First Holy Communion
- Baptized Catholic lacking BOTH First Holy Communion and Confirmation

Please note: St. Lawrence  does not guarantee that every person who participates in RCIA will be able to be received into the Church at the following Easter Vigil, as this is dependent on a variety of factors.

 

Marital Status & RCIA

The desire to receive the sacraments of the Catholic Church presupposes one's willingness to live according to the Church's teachings and precepts. The Catholic Church teaches that a person entering the Church must be in a state of grace prior to being received. A state of grace means that a person is truly free to receive the sacraments and is not conscious of any grave sin. This has very specific meaning with regard to marriage.

Therefore, the Church must inquire into the marital history of each individual entering the R.C.I.A. process. This means, the present marriage and any prior marriages will be reviewed to be certain they are in good standing with the Church's teaching on marriage. The Pastoral Associate, Sue Schmitz, will determine if any additional research needs to occur with regard to the marriage after the initial interview.

Please note: Persons entering the R.C.I.A. process who are married to Catholics are not required to become Catholic and should be freed of any pressures or expectations. Persons seeking to become Catholic need to make this choice because they believe this is what God is asking them to do, they believe what they have heard, and want to embrace the truths professed by the Catholic Church, even if they don't understand it all.

The clergy and R.C.I.A. team of St. Lawrence honors the discernment and free decision made by every person who enters R.C.I.A., regardless of what the outcome may be.

 

Interested In Serving RCIA?

The Role of the Sponsor

A sponsor has a privileged opportunity to walk side by side with those who are discerning and preparing to join the Catholic Church. The sponsor’s (or godparent’s) role is primarily to: witness their own faith to their designated candidate (or catechumen) by modeling the Christian life; assist them at the weekly sessions and help them get acquainted with Catholic life and practices; accompany them on certain Sunday’s for special Rites and at the Easter Vigil; give testimony of their candidate’s (or catechumen’s) readiness to be received into the Church. To be a sponsor (or godparent) one needs to be a practicing Catholic in good standing with the Church and has already received the sacrament of Confirmation.
 

The Role of the Team

The team represents the parish community; the body of Christ. Each team member has a particular leadership role that helps facilitate the process of RCIA. On the Tuesday sessions they assist by providing hospitality, distributing materials, and leading the small group discussions. Team members also take turns leading the Sunday discussions, called Breaking Open the Word, in place of the Liturgy of the Eucharist during the periods of the Catechumenate and Purification and Enlightenment.
Please consider sharing your time and your faith with those who are knocking at our door asking to join our Catholic family. This is both a powerful and prayerful ministry, and is at the core of the Church's mandate to "Go... and make disciples..." [Mt 28:19-20]. Your own faith-life will be renewed and enriched!
Please keep all those involved in the RCIA process in your prayers.