Christian Initiation (RCIA)
The Journey of Faith
Prior to beginning the process of Christian Initiation, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Pre-Catechumenate. For some, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, a shorter time. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church.
After a conversation with a priest or the Initiation Director the person, known as an "inquirer," is involved in a period of discovery and understanding of who is the Catholic Church and what are its members about? This period of discovery (about 3 to 4 months) culminates when the inquirer seeks acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance.
During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a Catechumen.
A person's faith journey always begins with God's initiation. God's presence can feel like a knocking door, a curiosity, a sense of wonder, a longing for healing, inner peace. Mysteriously, faith gradually changes from belief in something to belief in someone with a desire to know that person even more.
The Church offers the opportunity to become acquainted with the Scriptures, its traditions and the Christian life, for those who have questions about the Catholic faith. This is the beginning of the process called Order of Christian Initiation for Adults (OCIA)
What is the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults?
The Order of Christian Initiation Christian Initiation of Adults is the way by which people become full members of the Roman Catholic Church. Full membership requires a total formation that culminates in the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Christian Initiation is a faith journey in which a person is introduced to the community, beliefs, liturgy, and apostolic work of the Catholic Church.
Who is it for?
Christian Initiation is designed primarily for those adults seeking baptism in the Roman Catholic Church. Since baptized Christians from other denominations may be seeking membership in the Catholic Church, the Christian Initiation process is adapted to their needs as well. Baptized Catholics seeking to complete the Sacraments of Initiation (Confirmation and First Eucharist) thus completing their initiation sacraments are also welcome who
What is the Process?
The purpose of any program of Christian Initiation is to allow people the opportunity to deepen their encounter with Christ and Catholic community. More is involved than merely learning a creed.
The process involves several aspects:
- Period of Evangelization and Inquiry culminating in the Rite of Acceptance
- Period of the Catechumenate (normally one to two years)
- Rite of Election (First Sunday of Lent – at the cathedral)
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment (the six weeks of Lent)
- Sacraments of Initiation (at the Paschal Vigil
- Period of Continued Growth and Reflection (Mystagogy – the 7 weeks of Easter)
The RCIA may be a one- or two-year process because it respects the readiness of a person. The initial stage is called Inquiry. When candidates are ready, they participate in the Rite of Acceptance, and enter the Order of the Catechumenate: A Period of Formation by reflecting on the gospel of Jesus in light of their own life history.
On the first Sunday of Lent, candidates assemble in Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in downtown Los Angeles for the Rite of Election. After this, a Period of Sacramental Preparation occurs.
Initiation sacraments take place during the Easter Vigil followed by a Period of Continued Growth and Reflection in which the candidates reflect further on the mystery of Easter and the ways in which they can become disciples of Jesus through the apostolic work of the Church.
Thank you for your interest in the Catholic Church.
The initial period before you decide to enter the Catholic Church. You're asking questions and checking it out but need not commit. What is it that you Catholics believe? What does it mean to seek full sacramental communion and how does this affect my becoming Catholic? Who founded the Catholic Church? Do you worship Mary or the other saints?
Those who have decided they want to enter the Church become catechumens. In this stage, one develops their Catholic Christian faith through being "catechized" — learning the basic tenets of the Catholic faith.
Purification and Preparation
During the season of Lent, where all Catholics are preparing for the feast of the resurrection in Easter, it is a time of purification and drawing closer to God. The entire Body of Christ prayers especially for the catechumens as they enter this time of purification.
Initiation into the faith happens through baptism at the Easter Vigil. For those already baptized, they will be received into the faith without being baptized again. One also receives the sacraments of the Eucharist and confirmation in this same celebration. This is the biggest celebration of the year in the Catholic Church, because it celebrates the resurrection and new life in Christ.
After becoming Catholic and being in full communion with the sacramental life of the Church there is time for continued reflection and learning about the continued journey in faith.