Stages of the RCIA process
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), or Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum (OICA) is a process developed by the Catholic Church for prospective converts to Catholicism who are above the age of infant baptism. Candidates are gradually introduced to aspects of Catholic beliefs and practices.
The program is designed to show the Catholic faith to adults who are considering becoming members of the Catholic Church by receiving the sacraments of initiation (baptism and/or communion and confirmation).
For a period of eight months we will be discussing the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church in a welcoming and open atmosphere where we hope to have authentic discussions about our faith, provide opportunities for fellowship and helping you find a place in our parish community and develop a rich prayer life and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
We have a team of volunteers, skilled catechists, sponsors and many members of our parish community here to walk this journey of faith alongside you this year.
First Step: Initial Intake
For those interested in beginning the RCIA process, the first step is contacting Sr. Maria Jose, firstname.lastname@example.org. A meeting time will be arranged to get to know you and your faith background as well as how the Lord has been working in your life to bring you to this point. Any questions you have will be answered and an overview of the process for you to learn more about the Church to possibly be initiated will be explained. A general intake form will be filled out to officially register you in the process at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.
This first period of the RCIA process provides the opportunity for inquirers (un-baptized or baptized) to hear the mystery of Christ proclaimed, ask questions, share experiences, and begin to feel at home in the faith community. Seeking the wisdom of Jesus in the Catholic Church together, we discover new-found meaning, hope, love, and faith. Formally named the “period of evangelization and the precatechumenate”, this is a period of indeterminate length that ends when it is decided that an inquirer is ready to participate in the celebration of the rites of acceptance and welcoming.
Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming
Reaching the point of initial conversion and wishing to become Christians, precatechumens are accepted as catechumens by the Church.
The combined Rites of Acceptance (for those preparing for Baptism) and of Welcoming (for those who have already been baptized) mark the first gateway towards the Easter sacraments. These special rites are celebrated in the presence of our parish community here at Mount Carmel during an 09:00am Sunday Mass. As they publicly declare their intention to continue journeying toward full communion with the Catholic Church, inquirers are invited to more fully embrace the Gospel message with the help of God and are signed with the Cross to show that they belong to Christ. These rites do not obligate anyone to become Catholic but allow the community to welcome and pray for those entering into the second phase of deeper formation in the catechumenate.
Having its root in the Greek “katechien” meaning “echoing down” this extended period of formation in the Christian life is devoted to passing on the deposit of faith given to the apostles by Jesus Christ and entrusted to his Church. It includes a thoroughly comprehensive catechesis on the truths of Catholic doctrine and moral life so that participants may come to understand, confess and live that faith as a disciple of Christ. Catechumenate sessions are held Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm in McCready Hall and consist in Liturgy of the Word, hymns of praise, teaching, hospitality, lives of the saints, small group sharing, questions and answers. As we delve deeply into the treasury of the Church, you will be amazed by the truth you will discover.
Reflection on the Word
Adults who have entered into a relationship with the Church through the Rite of Acceptance in preparation for baptism are dismissed at the end of the Liturgy of the Word during the 09:00am Sunday Mass each week until shortly before their initiation at the Easter Vigil. This time, ordinarily lasting the remaining duration of the Mass, is Mother Church’s way of feeding more richly with the Word of God those who cannot yet be fed by partaking of the Holy Eucharist. Dismissal provides catechumens an opportunity to discuss the Mass readings for that Sunday with a facilitator, and to experience more fully the impact of the Scriptures in their lives.
Call to Continuing Conversion
This is a rite for candidates (baptized adult Catholics) who are Preparing for Confirmation and/or Eucharist through RCIA. Candidates from the Diocese will join for a ceremony at 3:30 in the Cathedral were they will renew their desire to deepen in their faith and converstion towards the Lord.
Rite of Sending
As the period of the catechumenate comes to an end, the Rite of Sending is celebrated at an 09:00am Sunday Mass to acknowledge the spiritual progress the catechumens have made, express approval of their election or recognition, and send them forth to Bishop Olmsted with assurance of our parish’s care and support. To send a catechumen to the bishop means that we as a parish at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel have discerned that the person is ready to enter the Catholic Church. In Sacred Scripture, the Book of Revelation makes reference to the “Book of Life,” in which are written the names of those who have chosen to follow the Lord Jesus and be baptized. Those who are already baptized, as Catholics or in other denominations, had their names written in the Book of Life at Baptism. In this Rite, those preparing for Baptism are invited to come forward and sign a book, which we call the “Book of the Elect,” as a sign of their desire to be numbered among the chosen of God.
Rite of Election
"Having progressed in faith and nearly completed the catechumenate, they are accepted into a more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation"
Across the entire world, Catholic bishops welcome those sent by the parish to gather together with their sponsors in what is known as the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent. Celebrated at Sts. Simon and Jude Cathedral with all catechumens and candidates of the Diocese, these rites announce that seekers are ready to celebrate the Easter sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist and will enter into a 40-day period of purification and enlightenment in preparation.
Purification and Enlightenment
Beginning with a weekend retreat at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David, AZ, participants enter into a 40-day phase which coincides with the Church Season of Lent. During this period, Catechumenate sessions are held Tuesday evenings from 7-9pm in McCready Hall but experience a shift in focus from instructional catechesis to interior reflection intended to enlighten the heart and mind with a deep knowledge of Christ the Savior. This time of solemn spiritual preparation is spent in reflection, spiritual reading, prayer, fasting, penance, and acts of charity.
The Penitential Rite is celebrated during the 09:00am Mass on the 2nd Sunday of Lent for those already baptized Christians who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church. It calls candidates to a deeper repentance and total abandonment to the mercy of the Father who sent his only Son to die for our sins in preparation for the healing sacrament of Reconciliation. Our prayer for these candidates, and for ourselves, is that the presence among us of Jesus who is the sum of the Law and the Prophets will transfigure all our lives with his redeeming grace, bringing us to conversion – a genuine desire to be holy as he is holy.
The Scrutinies are celebrated during the Masses on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent for those who are preparing for the sacrament of Baptism. These Rites are celebrated to help deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The universal Church hears the readings from Cycle A of the Lectionary of the Samaritan woman at the well, the healing of the man born blind, and the raising of Lazarus. These readings were chosen to be the driving force of prayerful introspection, surrender and conversion. Rite of Reception - Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
"Having completed their spiritual preparation, they receive the sacraments of initiation". Finally, the great night arrives - the night of the Easter Vigil where the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated. The Elect are baptized into the Body of Christ and are joined by the candidates seeking full reception into the Catholic Church to be sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation and welcomed at the Eucharistic Table of our Lord for the first time in Holy Communion!
Formation in the Catholic faith and life does not end with the Rite of Reception. Derived from the word mystery, mystagogy (literally a “deepening in the mysteries”) is a time of post-baptismal catechesis for continued spiritual growth, entering more fully into the life and unity of the Catholic community, and strengthening the Christian experience, especially in appreciation for the sacramental life. Although unwrapping the riches of the mysteries we proclaim is a lifelong journey for all of us, formal mystagogy as a part of the RCIA process continues weekly throughout the Easter season.