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What is RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process established for the universal Church for individuals to become Catholic and receive the sacraments of initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist.
This initiation process also involves a parish community experiencing a renewal in faith as it prepares and welcomes new members into the Church. The Rite speaks of conversion as a “spiritual journey.” Centered on fostering a deep relationship with Jesus and the Church he founded, this journey takes place through distinct stages over a period of time suitable to bring about a thorough catechesis, significant experience of the parish community, and commitment to the liturgical and moral life of the Catholic faithful.
The RCIA process is a restoration of the ancient catechumenate, arising within the first three centuries following the era of the apostles. It was the early Church’s way of Christianizing the pagan Roman Empire. The Second Vatican Council called for the restoration and use of this venerable and powerful method of initiation for the worldwide Church.
Who is RCIA for?
1. Persons in need of Baptism.
2. Persons baptized in another Christian tradition who desire to become Catholic.
3. Persons baptized Catholic in need of First Communion and/or Confirmation.
How did a person become Catholic before RCIA?
At most parishes, the person was given individual instruction by the parish priest, or someone delegated by him.
Why the change?
There were a number of limitations to private instruction. The priest was the only member of the Catholic community with whom the inquirer had contact, apart from any supporting family and friends. Private instruction did not ensure that the inquirer had a lived experience of the Catholic faith, or was exposed to authentic Christian charity as lived in a parish community.
How long is the RCIA process?
The time varies, but is rarely shorter than six months or longer than three years. The Church greatly respects the time each person needs for conversion and decision. The RCIA text gives guides for discerning this on a case-by-case basis.
At St. Pius X, RCIA begins in September and lasts until Pentecost which is typically in April or May.