The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a program for adults and children who were never baptized or baptized in another faith who are interested in joining the Catholic Church. The program begins in September and runs through mid-May. It is a four-stage process that highlights different aspects of the Catholic faith in a manageable sequence. They are as follows:
This first stage is what the word implies, a time of questions. We do a brief overview of the main teachings of the Church. It is also a time for building community among the members of the group. This stage begins in September and goes until the first Sunday of Advent in either late November or early December. If a person feels that he/she would like to continue with this process, they move to the next phase.
During this time, the teaching becomes a little more in depth and intense. We discuss things like the seven sacraments, more background to the Scriptures, Church history, social justice and life issues. We also ask that the group attend one Mass on the weekend as a group, usually the Sunday 8:30 Mass, and be presented for the Dismissal. Because they cannot go to the Eucharist yet to be fed, we dismiss them with a team member after the homily to go over the readings for the Mass and be fed with the Scriptures. Those to be baptized will be referred to as catechumens while those who will make a profession of faith (stating their belief now in the teaching of the Catholic Church) will be referred to as candidates. During this time, they will also begin to work with their sponsors to guide them along the journey. This process begins with the first Sunday of Advent and runs until the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. If the members still feel that they would like to continue the process, they move into the next phase.
The period of Elect begins with the Rite of Sending at the parish on the Sunday morning of the Rite of Election later in the day. At the parish celebration, the catechumens (those to be baptized) will sign the Book of Elect to be presented to the bishop later in the day. At the Rite of Election, the bishop will recognize them as Elect. This period lasts from this ceremony until the retreat on Holy Saturday. At the Easter Vigil that night, they will become new Catholics. Then the next phase begins.
The time of Mystagogia is simply a time of continuing education. Every Catholic is in a state of mystagogia, whether they were baptized as infants or later. We should all be seeking to expand our understanding of our faith. For those who have just entered the Church, it is a time of reflecting on what they have experienced. The evenings of these sessions are times of reflection and conversation. We also invite parishioners to join us for these evenings to give feedback and share in the conversations with the new Catholics.
Although the classes begin in September, we invite anyone interested in joining the Church to contact Sabrina at any time before then. She will want to meet with you to converse with you about your journey to the Church and fill out an application for our records. All are welcome!
Those who are about to enter the Church also need strong examples of the faith. By volunteering, you will be sharing your sense of faith and provide a light to the group. Here are some possible volunteer opportunities:
Christian Initation Team Member: A team of adults works with Sabrina to teach the class and discern the readiness of each person. The team also helps with the dismissals. Through the year, the team meets to talk about issues in the program and possible changes along the way.
Christian Initiation Sponsor: Many people are needed to sponsor individuals who want to be Catholic. You must be a confirmed, practicing Catholic attending Mass every Sunday and in good standing with the Church. You must also be prepared to support a person through questions, possible doubts, attendance at classes and ceremonies, and conversations about lessons being taught. You also need a love for the Catholic Church. If this fits you, please call Sabrina.