Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
Someone who wants to better understand the Catholic Faith?
Someone who has children in school and wants to understand the faith their child is being taught?
Someone who is attracted to the Catholic Church for its style of worship, moral beliefs, or its sense of tradition?
A Catholic who wants to update their own knowledge of the Catholic Faith?
RCIA at St. Philip Benizi might be the place for you!
What is RCIA?
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is the discernment and formation process that Catholic Church uses to bring un-baptized adults to Jesus Christ and His Church. It is also the process we use to fully initiate baptizes adults (whether Catholic or another Christian denomination) into the Catholic Church through the sacrament of Confirmation and the Eucharist.
Through this process, you will discover and experience our Catholic faith as we encounter God in prayer, learn about what Catholics believe, how that shapes our worldview, and introduce you to our parish community.
It is a journey of study, prayer, formation, and fellowship leading to reception as a full member into the Catholic Church. It is also a comprehensive study for Catholics who want to learn more about the faith they love!
If you are interested in joining RCIA or would like to know more about this program and our 2,000 year old Catholic faith, please contact Fr. Paschal or the office (503-631-2882).
More Information on RCIA
There are four stages in the RCIA:
the Precatechumanate, or period of inquiry and evangelization;
the Catechumanate, which is a time of serious and dedicated formation;
the period of purification and enlightenment, which coincides with Lent; and
Mystagogy, which lasts from Easter to Pentecost.
All of these stages are marked by distinct liturgical rites.
How long does it take?
In our parish at St. Philip Benizi, the process to be enlightened to believe in Jesus who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life," and to become a member of the mystical Body of Christ which is the Catholic Church, takes about eight months.
The sacraments of Initiation, Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated and the Catechumens and Candidates receive these sacraments to be disciples of Jesus in the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil.
What is a Catechumen?
People involved in the RCIA process are either catechumens or candidates. Catechumens are those who have never been baptized. Candidates are those who have been baptized in other Christian denominations, whose baptism is recognized as valid.
When a person has decided to join the Catholic Church, he or she begins the catechumenate. This begins with a Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, which is often combined with the Rite of Welcoming for Candidates when there is a mixed group of the unbaptized and the already baptized. This rite occurs at a Sunday parish liturgy.
The catechumens proclaim their readiness to accept the Gospel, and candidates declare their intent to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Catechumens and Candidates are signed with the cross on their forehead, ears, eyes, lips, breast, shoulders, hands and feet as a sign of their readiness to bear witness to Christ with their whole lives. A Bible or Cross is usually given.
The Period of Purification and Enlightenment
In the early Church, baptisms only occurred at Easter, so the weeks before Easter were a focused time of preparation for catechumens. This period evolved into what we know as Lent. Today, catechumens and candidates are presented to the bishop of the diocese at the cathedral. The catechumens' names are inscribed in a Book of the Elect, and candidates commit to continuing conversion.
During the period of purification, catechumens participate in several rites during parish liturgies. On the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent are the scrutinies, during which special prayers are offered for the catechumens, "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" (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
During the first Scrutiny or the week afterward, the catechumens are presented with a copy of the Creed. During the Third Scrutiny or the week afterward, they are given a copy of the Lord's Prayer, in accord with ancient tradition in which catechumens were not taught the words to the Lords Prayer until soon before their baptism.
Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation
In the early Church, the Easter Vigil was the only liturgy of the year in which people joined the Church. This was because at Easter we celebrate Christ's victory over death and our sharing in that victory through baptism. The journey during that all-night vigil was journey from darkness to light, from death to life. This is the journey that new Christians share, as they descend and rise from the waters of baptism, in which they are reborn.
At the Easter Vigil, catechumens are baptized and confirmed; candidates are confirmed. The new Catholics complete their initiation by approaching the Lord's Table for the first time to receive His Body, as full members of His Body at last.