Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands are initiated into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

     The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is a communal process of spiritual and educational formation for adults who seek to become full members of the Roman Catholic Church through a conversion of mind and heart. The process is open to all persons, regardless of religious background, who genuinely seek, by God’s grace, to live their lives in the distinctive Catholic faith.  It includes several stages marked by study, prayer and rites at Mass. The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism. In 1974 the Rite for Christian Initiation for Adults was formally approved for use in the United States.
     Those who are not baptized are called catechumens. They undergo a process of conversion as they study the Gospel and the Catholic faith, and receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
     Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for men and women who are baptized Christians but not Roman Catholics. These individuals, called candidates,  make a profession of faith, celebrate Confirmation and Eucharist at the Vigil, but they are not baptized again as long as they have been baptized in the Trinitarian form (Matt 28:19: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.)
     The process of initiation takes place with the larger community of the faithful of the parish. Within the Rite of Acceptance (the 1st week in Advent) and the Rite of Election (the 1st week in Lent), the catechumens and candidates are welcomed into the St. Michael family. Prayers are especially important as many on this journey will face doubt.  Some will also face difficulties from family members and friends who do not understand what the Catholic faith is all about. Some will need sponsors and sponsors are extremely important during this process in terms of support and guidance.   The community’s most important contribution, however, is being an example of what it means to live the “Catholic life”.  Catechumens and candidates are constantly observing the community to better understand what it means to live the Gospel in all aspects of life – worship and service to each other and the wider world. By offering prayer, support, and example, the community of St. Michael’s becomes an active, engaged, and important part of the RCIA process. 
     Here at St. Michael’s, the RCIA classes are open to all parishioners as well.  Growing up, many of us received our faith by memorizing the Baltimore Catechism, but our faith is much richer than we realize.  I thought I knew my faith – and then I started teaching RCIA classes and found out I only knew a fraction of what there is to know.  Every day, I learn something new about my faith. I invite all who wish to deepen there faith to contact me.  For more information, please call me at 819-5134 or email me at balvarez@saintmichaelchurch.org.

                                                              Barbara Alvarez
                                                                          Pastoral Ministries & Adult Faith Formation Coordinator 

Click here for the RCIA Registration Form.