RCIA

RCIA

 

What is RCIA? 

RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults into the Catholic faith.  It is the process of presenting the teachings of Christ, as we Catholic Christians believe them to be.  This process may be better described as a “Journey of Faith” for all of us — the unbaptized, Protestant Christians and Catholic Christians — are at varying stages in our understanding of what it means to be Christian.

 

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Who typically attends RCIA?  

  • Those married to Catholics
  • Those visitors who are interested in Catholicism
  • Those who have not gone to church but are looking for a faith experience
  • Inactive Catholics who wish to return to Church
  • Those separated from the Sacraments for any reason, i.e., not married in the Church or re-married
  • Those who missed the Sacrament of Confirmation
  • Active Catholics wishing to increase their understanding of the Catholic faith.

 

                                                       

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When is RCIA    held?  How long does it last?

At St. Mary Parish, we begin sessions in late August or September.  Informational Sessions are held each Sunday at 11:45 – 12-45 p.m. in  the parish office.  During this time, the catechetical (teaching) “Inquiry team members” answers any questions pertaining to the Catholic faith and presents the Catholic belief as it pertains to faith and morals.

After a period of time those who wish to make the next step on the journey, will begin to attend Sunday Mass.  This is required for those who wish to join us by baptism or profession of faith.  After the homily, these inquirers — now referred to as catechumens if unbaptized or candidates if already baptized in a Christian church by the ordinary rite — will leave the congregation for a further examination of the scriptures.  A facilitator will assist in this “breaking open the Word” for the remainder of Mass with a Session on doctrine following.

 

 

Who is the contact person for RCIA?

Jeanne Bohan is the Director for RCIA at St. Mary. Jeanne is supported by a RCIA Team who serve as teachers (facilitators and catechists), hospitality and sponsors.  Parishioners from St. Mary may also assist by presenting talks on Catholic Doctrine and sharing their personal experiences of living a Catholic faith. Jeanne may be reached by phone (405) 623-3954 or email:  jeanne@stmaryguthrie.com.

 

Who will sponsor me if I choose to join the Catholic Church?

Shortly before moving into Catechumenate, each inquirer will be assigned a Catholic parishioner to be their sponsor.  The role of the sponsor is vital.  Basically, the sponsor becomes a friend of the inquirer.  Each sponsor will receive support and help from our RCIA Core Team.  We do expect the sponsor to be more than the ceremonial sponsor for baptism, confirmation or reception into the Church.  Some sponsors have enriched their own faith life by attending the weekly sessions.  Some have shared their own prayer life and introduced the inquirer to some of our Catholic devotions, activities and ministries in our parish life.  All of this helps our potential new member become an active and vital part of our large Catholic family.

 

What are the final preparations for joining the Catholic Church?

A Saturday day of retreat and/ or an evening penance celebration will take place in the last few weeks before the formal joining our Catholic faith.

 

Will I still get support after joining the Catholic Church?

After joining our Catholic church, the new members will be offered an opportunity to continue meeting in a small group weekly until Pentecost or a monthly basis for the year following their reception into the Catholic Church.  This is an option to continue experiencing friendship and support in our never-ending faith journey.

 

Why would someone who is already Catholic attend RCIA?

This journey of faith is an opportunity for adult Catholics to prepare for the sacrament of confirmation.  It is also quite informative for any Catholic who wishes to learn more about their faith.

 

What are the formal names for each stage of RCIA?

RCIA is a journey, which leads adults — those unbaptized and those baptized in other faith traditions — into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ within the Catholic Church.  It is a time of discernment broken up into four distinct stages:

 

1. The Period of Evangelization or Precatechumenate – a time of inquiry and reflection to help discern God’s call.  Weekly sessions help you to better understand the teachings of Christ, the foundation of the Catholic Church.  At the conclusion of this period, inquirers are invited to celebrate a Welcoming Rite (Rite of Acceptance), asking to become catechumens or candidates and thus formally requesting to study further in discerning joining the Church.2. The Period of The Catechumenate – a deepening of faith centered around the study of, sharing of and reflection upon the Sunday Gospel readings with the intent of full initiation into the Catholic church.  This period concludes with the Rite of Election.3. The Period of Purification and Enlightenment – final preparation for the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist).  The catechumens, the candidates and the entire parish community are called to reform their lives according to the demands of the gospel.  This period, marked by soulful prayer and reflection, concludes with the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.4. Mystagogy (Leading into the Mysteries) – a time for the community and the newly initiated Catholics to grow together: to gain a fuller and more effective understanding of mysteries through the gospel message and through the experience of receiving sacraments.  Typically, this includes a weekly meeting in the period between Easter and Pentecost and monthly sessions and activities within the Catholic tradition, which may include participation in a small faith-sharing group or in parish ministries.  Mystagogy is the beginning of a lifelong pilgrimage.  It is a continuous conversion of the heart, mind and spirit as we strive to be closer to Christ.

 

 What is the basis for teachings at the RCIA sessions? 

The faith and moral teachings of the Catholic Faith will follow the Liturgical Calendar with a focus on the doctrines, which flow from the Gospel readings at each Sunday Mass with references from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

Should I expect to be ready to join the Catholic Church after attending these sessions? 

The amount of time spent in each stage of discernment is dependent on individual needs and feelings.  Conversion occurs in God’s time, not ours.  

 

Why would I consider joining the Catholic Church, especially if I am already Christian? 

Many converts experience a return to the roots of Christianity when they join the Catholic Church as we emanate from the unbroken traditions established by Christ with his apostles.  They find unity and consistency between our beliefs and practices and the Gospel message.  They are inspired by the lives of St. Francis, St. Augustine and other outstanding believers in Christ.  They also find joy in the Sacraments, God’s gift of abundance to us all.  The sacraments are the strength of the Church and a focal point of our Catholic Christian lives.  Sacraments in the Catholic Church occur through signs and rituals, which affect a grace from God through the Church.  We believe that sacraments confer God’s assistance in our attempts at holiness, thus Marriage and Religious Vocations, which are not sacraments in most other Christian churches, are sacraments in the Catholic Church.

 

Are prior marriages an obstacle in becoming a Catholic?

Catholics believe that marriage is a sacred covenant, freely entered into by mature individuals.  When both persons are baptized, we also believe that this sacred covenant is a sacrament.  Sacred scripture clearly teaches that marriage should be fruitful, faithful and permanent.

Because of these beliefs, the Catholic Church requires that Catholics be duly prepared for entering into this sacred union.  For a Catholic to be validly married and eligible to receive the Eucharist, a Catholic priest or deacon must witness their marriage, unless they have received a dispensation from this form.

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The Catholic Church recognizes as valid all marriages of non-Catholics, if this is the first marriage for both persons.  However, when prior marriages exist, the Church is very concerned about helping individuals become eligible for receiving the sacraments in our Church.  This is accomplished by presenting a petition for annulment of all prior marriages.  Our parish priest will assist anyone preparing his or her petition to our archdiocesan tribunal.  This process is free and confidential.  The length of time for the tribunal to process this petition varies in each case.  Much depends upon the presentation of all necessary documents — e.g., marriage licenses and divorce decrees — and the cooperation of witnesses designated by the petitioner to provide information (two are required).

Using this information as the basis for the question of prior marriages, a favorable decision from the tribunal is necessary before one is eligible to receive sacraments in the Catholic Church.  After such a decision, a renewal of marriage vows is also required, thus sacramentalizing the present civil marriage.  When this has been completed, then reception into the Catholic Church can take place.  If the present spouse is Catholic, then that Catholic is eligible for the sacraments, as well.

If a divorced person wishes to join our Church and they are currently living a single life, there is no impediment to joining the Church.  If there is some intention to marry again, a petition for annulment should be prepared and submitted, as the future union would have to be witnessed by a Catholic priest.