Got Questions? RCIA has answers
WHY do Catholics do the things they do?
WHAT is the MASS all about anyway?
WHAT do Catholics believe and WHY?
HOW is the Catholic faith different from other faith traditions?
WHAT is the role of MARY and the SAINTS in the Catholic Church?
WHAT’s what in the Church?
WHAT is RCIA and WHO is it for?
RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, a process used by Catholic parishes to welcome and prepare adults who are interested in becoming Catholic or exploring whether or not the Catholic faith is for them (or baptized Catholic, but not yet Confirmed). We gather together, learn about the Catholic faith, pray, and share our journey together in community.
Whether you are seeking God for the first time, are an already baptized Christian of another denomination, were baptized Catholic as an infant, but received little education in the faith, or a baptized Catholic who has stepped away from the Church, we welcome you. Please contact Debbie Chester at 208-344-8311.
Steps Along the RCIA Journey
“Who am I and what does God want with me?” This is the question that is often times at the core of a person’s heart when he or she approaches the Church or our parish community looking to become a member. This is the question brought to the Inquiry portion of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) process. It is here where the gifts of hospitality and evangelization are most evident. Often referred to as the Precatechumenate Period, inquiry provides the environment for sharing our faith stories, where both the inquirers and the parish itself are changed by the ways God has been at work in our lives. The RCIA team facilitates these informal gatherings with the agenda being focused on the inquirers’ questions. “It is not about increasing Church membership but about inviting people into relationship with Jesus and into dialogue with the Gospel, leading them to discipleship.” (North American Forum on the Catechumenate).
- Rites of Acceptance & Welcoming
At some point for each inquirer, there comes a time of discernment: Do I want to become a Catholic? When the answer is “yes”, the inquirers are further welcomed and invited into the faith community through The Rite of Acceptance. This is the first step for those who have never been baptized to declare their intent to become members of the Christian community and in turn are accepted by the community in helping it to carry out its apostolic mission. Upon acceptance into the community, they become known as catechumens and begin the next period known as the Catechumenate.
The Rite of Welcoming which welcomes those who have been baptized (in other denominations, as well as Catholic) but not fully initiated into the community by having received the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation, acknowledges that these individuals (candidates) are already part of the community because they have been marked by baptism. Having evidence of faith, conversion and intention to enter into a relationship with God, the candidates participate in the liturgical life of the parish, its various religious education opportunities, and prepare for full reception into the community. For many, the catechumenate process becomes a resource for faith formation.
The time known as the Catechumanate is somewhat likened to an apprenticeship in the Christian community. After a period of discernment and a Rite of Welcome or Acceptance, an individual makes the decision to become a member of the Catholic Church and begins this period of instruction or catechesis at the side of a sponsor who represents the community as a mentor and friend. But more than just a time for learning doctrine, it is a time of hearing the word of God, being in a community of love, living a life of apostolic service and witness, and praying. This is a time in which an individual is immersed in the life of the church community.
- Rite of Sending
At the conclusion of the period of the catechumenate, a rite of sending the catechumens to their election by the bishop is celebrated in the parish. This rite offers the community the opportunity to express its approval of the catechumens and to send them forth to the celebration of election assured of the parish’s care and support. This rite usually takes place the first weekend in Lent.
- Rite of Election
The second step in Christian initiation is the liturgical rite called both election and the enrollment of names, which closes the period of the catechumenate proper. The celebration of the rite of election marks the beginning the period of final, more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation, during which the elect will be encouraged to follow Christ with greater generosity. Because the election is the focal point of the Church’s concern for the catechumens, admission to election therefore belongs to the bishop who is the presiding celebrant for the Rite of Election.
The scrutinies are rites for self-searching and repentance and have above all a spiritual purpose. They are meant to uncover, then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect; to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. Three scrutinies are celebrated on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent and take place within the Mass.
- Easter Vigil
The third step in the Christian initiation of adults is the celebraton of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist during the celebration of the Easter Vigil.
Mystagogy is the period of time immediately following a person’s experience of the sacraments and reception into the community. It is intended to further deepen the relationship with Christ and the Christian community. New members (neophytes) move more intently and intentionally into the life and mission of the church.