Becoming Catholic – Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
JOURNEY IN FAITH
In the early Church, adults seeking to become Christians were welcomed into the parish community as catechumens. Their instruction and formation in the faith took place in the midst of parish life, not in isolation. It was everyone’s responsibility not only the priest’s, to help bring the new Christian into the Church. The efforts the community made to instruct and form the initiated were also efforts in self-renewal. This was the traditional meaning of Lent. A time during which the community again contemplated the basis mysteries of Christianity. At Easter, the catechumens were received into the sacramental life of the Church and the community celebrated its own renewal life.
The Church of the Sacred Heart has made the RCIA process an integral part of our parish life. It is open to anyone who is seriously interested in becoming a Catholic and joining our community of life. Within the RCIA is the opportunity to socialize, to pray to share our faith, to learn about the Catholic tradition, and to minister to one another. The central focus of the RCIA is the paschal mystery-the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, underlying the entire process “is the creation of a warm and authentic spirit of welcome and hospitality”.
The RCIA speaks of this process as a “spiritual journey” which involves four specific stages taking place over a specific period of time.
- The period of Inquiry (the Pre-catechumenate).
- The catechumenate (the pastoral formation of Catechumens).
- The period of Enlightenment (an intense spiritual preparation during Lent for the Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation [Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation] at the Easter Vigil).
- The Mystagogia (the post-baptismal catechesis).
To help and encourage and support the candidates on this journey, men and women of the parish community “are called upon to take an active role of journeying with the candidates through the entire initiation process”. As a sponsor, you will help guide your searching catechumen as he or she seeks to understand the Catholic faith and chooses to embrace it as their own.
In sponsorship your role is four-fold:
- Companion – you will walk through the full initiation process with your candidate, attending weekly sessions and liturgical celebrations.
- Guide – you will show your candidate the road to full initiation into Christ and the Church through your own involvement in our parish community.
- Model – your candidate will learn from you what being a Catholic is about.
- Witness – you will testify to the community your candidates’ readiness to celebrate the sacraments of initiation.
Furthermore, the entire parish community will also have an opportunity and responsibility to be part of this “spiritual journey” and to participate in the initiation process.