The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA, is a communal process for formal initiation of new members into the Catholic Church. This process is a return to the formation of the earliest members of the Church in the first and second centuries.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the RCIA as a process in which participants "undergo . . . conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments . . . The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism."
Likewise, the language used in the RCIA process is that of the early church formation programs. Catechumens are those people who are seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church through all of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. Candidates are people who have been baptized in a Christian tradition but are seeking initiation into the Catholic Church through Eucharist and Confirmation.
RCIA is a Journey
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a process that proceeds over weeks and months. It has several steps:
This is the earliest phase in the process; it is also known as the Period of Inquiry. Catechumens and Candidates acknowledge that Christ is calling them into the Church through the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is a time for seeking and reflection.
Rite of Initiation
The first Rite in the RCIA process, the Rite of Initiation accepts new members into the worshipping community.
The longest part of the process, the Catechumenate is a time of learning and formation in the traditions and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a time for sharing stories, reading scripture, and studying the Church customs, traditions and doctrine. Participants also participate in worship services and various Church rituals.
Rite of Election
Catechumens and Candidates are chosen to be received by the Bishop and the community and receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.
Sacraments of Initiation
At the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday), all newly elected members of the community who have been journeying through the RCIA process are welcomed formally into the community of believers through receiving the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
This is a time of reflection and celebration after the formal reception into the Catholic Church. Mystagogia means “leading into the mystery” and it is a time to explore the deep mystery of our faith and go forth to help build the reign of God on earth as new members of the faithful.
What RCIA specifically looks like in Chippewa Falls
RCIA in Chippewa is a joint effort between the parishes of Notre Dame, Holy Ghost, St. Charles and St. Peter that happens on Wednesday nights from 7:15-8:30 at the Goldsmith Religious Education (The GREC - 22 South Prairie St.) at a weekly adult formation event called Goldsmith Catholic Connect (Connect for short). These evenings are open to all area Catholics and those coming into the church through the RCIA process. Following the RCIA curriculum, Connect offers the catechesis necessary for those going through RCIA as well as ongoing education for those already in full communion with the Catholic Church. Even those who simply have questions about the Catholic Faith will find what they need at Connect. We even haver a fully loaded, high-end coffee shop on site!
It is important to remember that even though we have a city-wide RCIA ministry in Chippewa Falls, we receive the rites of RCIA and the sacraments through our parish. If you would like to become Catholic, please contact the parish you have been attending or plan to join (Holy Ghost, Notre Dame, St. Charles, or St. Peter).