Fr. Bruce directs our Adult Faith Formation Program, which includes the RCIA. He explains:
Most of us “cradle Catholics” were baptized as infants; went to Confession and received our First Holy Communion along with many of our 2nd grade classmates; and then, a few years later, we were Confirmed. But for those adults who did not have the benefit of such a strong Catholic upbringing, and for those non-Catholics who have been drawn to the Church later in life, the Church has restored a process of growth in faith that was once the norm. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was promulgated in 1972 to establish a period of reflection, prayer, instruction, discernment and formation leading to full participation in the Church’s life of grace. Those who enter the RCIA process are expected to begin attending Mass on Sundays, weekly RCIA sessions, and become increasingly involved in the activities of their local parish. They discern their call to be fully initiated in the faith and the parish community gets to know them as people of faith who are spiritually ready to be received into full communion in the Church.
The RCIA begins with a period of inquiry leading to the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate which is usually celebrated by the whole community on the First Sunday of Advent. The Catechumenate may last as long as 2 or 3 years; though in some places it may only be 8 to 12 months, depending upon the individual case of the person seeking to be initiated in the faith. Those who are to be baptized are called by the Bishop at the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent. And those who are already baptized, but who are seeking to complete their initiation through First Eucharist and/or Confirmation, are called to continuing conversion.
The Lenten season is a time of purification and enlightenment for all of us, but especially for the RCIA Candidates and Elect. During this time we celebrate the optional Rites called the Scrutinies. We celebrate these Rites as a way to acknowledge that our brothers and sisters in the RCIA process are indeed being called by God to become full members of our community of faith. We travel the Lenten path to conversion and renewal with them and we pray for them in a particular way, asking God to cleanse and strengthen them in their commitment to live the Gospel we profess.
Those chosen for Baptism at the Easter Vigil will also be Confirmed and receive Holy Communion that night. And those candidates who were already baptized will be formally received into full communion with the faith, Confirmed, and receive Holy Communion at another celebration some other time during the Easter Season.
Please keep our RCIA Candidates and our Catechumen in your prayers during this special time.