The Catholic Church warmly welcomes new members and provides them with spiritual formation according to their needs. The process, which is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), includes children who have passed their seventh birthday, unbaptized adults, baptized adults who are either unfamiliar with or not active in the Christian way of life, and persons who were baptized and active in other Christian denominations. All RCIA participants have sponsors – members of the parish community -who attend the sessions and rites with them and serve as companions on the journey.
The RCIA process includes four formation periods which prepare the participants to take part in the rites that conclude the first three periods:
Period One: Inquiry – a time of informal introduction to the Catholic community, its teaching and traditions.
Rite One: Rite of Acceptance or Welcome – the inquirers are formally introduced to the parish community which accepts and welcomes them.
Period Two: Catechumenate – a lengthy period during which the participants gather weekly to discuss the gospel proclaimed in the Sunday readings and relate those truths to their daily lives. The RCIA team, the pastor, associate pastor, and other speakers assist the participants in their study of many facets of the Catholic faith.
Rite Two: Election or Call to Continuing Conversion
Period Three: Purification and Enlightenment – a forty-day period which focuses on prayer and spiritual growth usually coinciding with Lent.
Rite Three: Initiation at Easter Vigil
Period Four: Mystagogy – a seven week period of reflecting on the experience of initiation, the meaning of the sacraments, and the new members integration into the Catholic community. No rite formally concludes this period because it does not end. All adult Catholics are called to reflect upon and deepen their appreciation for the mysteries throughout their lives.
The RCIA process usually takes about one year to complete; however, the time frame is very flexible depending upon the spiritual needs of each participant. Some people spend two years or more in the process. For others, several months is sufficient. School-age children participate in a similar process of study and spiritual growth that is appropriate to their age and development.
RCIA meets on Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m. For more information contact Brigid Johnson at (865) 522-1508 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.