RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation
RCIA is the process of becoming Catholic. Through RCIA, candidates learn about the Catholic faith and gain support and guidance. RCIA provides an initiation into the Catholic Community of Faith for people who are experiencing a conversion in their lives and seeking full Communion with the Catholic tradition of Eucharist and Confirmation. RCIA is also called the Catechumenate. OLGC offers catechesis in preparation for the sacraments of Baptism, First Penance and First Eucharist (Communion), and Confirmation.
Start Date: Our program is year-round.
Adults and children ages 7-18 who meet any of the following criteria are invited to take part in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) or the RCIA adapted for Children:
- Unbaptized and wish to become Catholic (i.e., seek full initiation into the Catholic Church with the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and 1st Eucharist).
- Baptized Christian (non-Catholic) and would like to enter the Catholic Church from another Christian faith (i.e., enter into full communion with the Catholic Church by receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist).
- Baptized Catholic as an infant but had no further Catholic faith formation/religious education or sacraments (i.e., would like to complete your initiation into the Catholic Church by receiving the sacraments of Confirmation and First Eucharist).
- Adults and children ages 8-18 who were baptized Catholics as infants and celebrated their First Eucharist, but had no further Catholic religious education (i.e., would like to complete your initiation in the Catholic Church by receiving the sacrament of Confirmation).
Contact: Amy Winkler, Director of Christian Formation, 703.896.7414
Why an RCIA process?
Christians are made, not born. The development of faith takes time; it cannot be rushed. There is nothing automatic or instant in the Rite of Christian Initiation; candidates need time for their faith to ripen. Usually this means one to two years of faith formation, depending on the background and spiritual maturity of the candidate.
Hundreds of years ago, a person desiring reception into the Catholic Christian Community studied, prayed, fasted, and did good works for three years. Initiation takes time because as candidates experience the cycles of the faith throughout the year, they learn about the traditions, the people, the prayer, and the actions of the community.
Because each person is unique, the amount of time it takes for someone to complete each period cannot be determined ahead of time. As such, the process at OLGC is year-round so that adults and children can begin the RCIA process throughout the year.
Who participates in RCIA?
- Non-Catholics who want to learn more about the Catholic faith
- Those who want to join the Catholic Church through Baptism or Profession of Faith
- Those who were baptized Catholic but did not receive religious education, Confirmation, or First Eucharist
- Children and teens who want to join the Catholic Church through Baptism or Profession of Faith (parental permission required)
Five Stages of the RCIA process
Inquiry or Pre-Catechumenate - During this time participants are encouraged to ask questions and explore the basic tenets of the Catholic faith, and reflect upon these in light of their own life experiences.
The Catechumenate - Candidates study Scripture, doctrine, traditions, and engage in community service. Candidates meet with the Community of Faith at Mass and prayer.
Purification and Enlightenment - During the Lenten season (pre-Easter), those preparing for Baptism reflect upon their own faith experiences in a more intense, prayerful way. At other times during the year, baptized candidates for RCIA reflect more deeply on the meaning of their Baptism and celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).
Sacraments of Initiation - Candidates for Baptism celebrate their initiation into the Church at Easter Vigil, the holiest night of the liturgical year. They are baptized, confirmed, and receive Eucharist. Candidates who have already been baptized celebrate their Rite of Reception at several other times throughout the year.
Mystagogia - During this final stage, candidates reflect upon their experience of being new Catholic Christians and find their place in the ordinary life of the Church.
Sponsors and Catechists
We are always in need of faith-filled people as sponsors who will walk the faith journey with a candidate. You simply need to be who you already are as a Catholic person of faith.
We are also in need of those who would like to be catechists, supported by other catechists and good resource materials.
Do I have to commit to Catholicism to participate in RCIA? - No! We realize that many people are searching and need to learn more about the Church before they are ready to make a commitment. That is why the period of Inquiry is so important. We also realize that Catholicism is not for everyone. We do not ask for a firm commitment until the beginning of Lent for non-baptized.
I was baptized in a different (non-Catholic) church. Must I be re-baptized as a Catholic? - No! There is only one Baptism. Candidates seeking full Communion with the Catholic Church will not be baptized again. They will make a Profession of Faith, and receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation.
How do I join RCIA? - Contact: Amy Winkler, Director of Christian Formation, 703.896.7414