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Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and Children (RCIA)


The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) here at Holy Family is a year round process. We believe that when a person answers the call of God, we should not make them wait until it is convenient for us, but to meet them where THEY are!

Who is involved in the process?

People involved in the process include coordinators, spiritual advisor, catechists, of course the candidates themselves and their sponsors and/or parish companions. They learn from each other and over the course of the journey form a close community.

The purpose of any process of Christian Initiation is to allow people the opportunity to deepen their encounter with Christ and the Catholic community. More is involved than merely learning a creed. In this process, candidates are invited to share in the beliefs, life, liturgy and works of service of the church. In this way, the entire parish community is involved in the process by their witness and activity as well as their welcoming stature towards the prospective new members.

The time for persons seeking baptism is at the Easter Vigil. Christians from other faith traditions seeking entrance into the Catholic Church are invited to full communion throughout the year.



The RCIA Process

The RCIA is a four-step process designed to initiate people into the Catholic Church. The process is implemented at the parish level. The steps include:

Pre-Catechumenate: RCIA officially begins when a person contacts a parish and expresses interest in learning more about the church. This is known as the period of inquiry. During this period, people ask questions about the faith, doctrines and teachings of the Catholic Church.

The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens completes the first stage or period of the initiation process. During this rite, candidates state their intention to join the faith and are publicly welcomed as people who are journeying to become members.

Catechumenate: In the second stage, candidates (those already baptized in either a Catholic or Protestant church) and catechumens (the unbaptized) receive formal training in Christian living and learn more about Scripture and church doctrine. Candidates and catechumens attend weekly sessions pertaining to doctrinal teachings of the church. In addition, they gather weekly at Mass to hear Scripture and gather afterward with a catechist for discussion.

The Rite of Election usually takes place the First Sunday of Lent. At this time, the catechumens are called by name to sign the Book of the Elect and candidates are called forward. The diocesan bishop usually presides at this celebration.

Period of Purification: This is a period of purification and enlightenment — a time for reflection and prayer. The candidates, now called the elect, purify their minds and hearts by celebrating three purifying rituals known as the Scrutinies.

The Sacrament of Initiation is celebrated at the Easter Vigil. The elect celebrate the sacraments of baptism (for the unbaptized), confirmation and Eucharist.

Period of Mystagogy: This period continues during the Eastertide (50 days of Easter) when the neophytes (newly initiated) gather weekly to deepen their grasp of the great paschal mystery. While the traditional Mystagogy ends at this time, it is best to continue through the anniversary of the initiation. This period helps neophytes understand and live out their new lives as part of the Body of Christ.


Daily Readings

Bringing Home the Word



BOOK OF THE ELECT: The book the Catechumens for election are to sign at the Rite of Sending in their parish, this book is presented to the bishop at the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent,from there they are sent to the Easter sacraments.

CANDIDATE: Generally anyone preparing to become a Catholic, but the term is often used more specifically for a person who is baptized in another Christian tradition, who is preparing for reception into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church.

CANON LAW: The body of law that governs church practice and protects the rights and privileges of individuals and community.

CATECHESIS: The instruction and spiritual formation of the catechumens, neophytes and candidates.

CATECHUMEN: An unbaptized person who is seeking initiation into the church and who has been accepted into the order of catechumens.

CATECHUMENATE: The process by which the Catholic church brings unbaptized children and adults to Christian initiation. Also, the period of time during which an unbaptized person prepares for Christian initiation.

CHRISM: A combination of oil and sweet balsam or perfume that is mixed and consecrated by the bishop and used to anoint newly baptized people and newly ordained priests and bishops.Chrism is also used in the consecration of churches and altars.

DOCTRINE: The formal teachings of the church.

ELECT: Catechumens who have been found ready by the community of faith to take part in the next celebration of the sacraments of initiation.

ELECTION: The process of selecting those catechumens who are considered ready to take part in the next celebration of the sacraments of initiation. The celebration of the Rite of Election takes place the first Sunday of Lent. The bishop declares in the name of the church that particular catechumens are ready and chosen for the sacraments at Easter. The Book of the Elect is presented to the bishop at this celebration.

ENLIGHTENMENT: The period of Lent during which the elect are involved in the final stage of preparation for celebrating the rites of initiation. ( may also be called illumination and purification ).

ENROLLMENT: The rite of inscribing into the Book of the Elect the names of those catechumens to be elected to take part in the next celebration of the sacraments of initiation.( usually done at the Rite of Sending in the parish, or can be done at the Rite of Election in some diocese, ours has the Rite of Sending ).

EPHPHETHA: The rite in which the presider touches the ears and the mouth of the elect and prays that they be open to hear and proclaim the word of God in faith. ( it may be celebrated as part of the preparation rites on Holy Saturday.)

EXORCISMS: Prayers for the deliverance from the powers of evil and falsehood and for the reception of the gifts of the Lord, especially the Holy Spirit. Exorcisms are part of the rites of scrutiny.

EVANGELIZATION: The activity by which the church proclaims the gospel in word and in deed. ( Also the period in which the Inquirers are prepared for the catechumenate ).

FASTING: A form of sarifice by which faithful Christians join themselves with the suffering and death of Jesus by foregoing food for a specific period of time. On Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday , Catholics are obliged to fast in a modified way. Many Christians fast from Holy Thursday evening to after the Easter Vigil in anticipation of the Lord’s resurrection.

GODPARENT(S) : This is the person who will accompany the catechumen on his/her journey through the rites and periods of the catechumenate through the time of mystagogy ( the time after Easter ) .This person is selected by the catechumen with the approval of the parish priest.

ILLUMINATION: see enlightenment

IMMERSION: Baptism in which the person is partially or entirely submerged in the baptismal waters.

INFUSION: Baptism by pouring water over the head of the person.

INITIATION: The process by which a person enters the faith life of the church. The process extends from the persons first inquiry through the completion of mystagogy.

INQUIRERS: Persons wo sincerely seek to learn about the faith of the church.

LECTIONARY: A book containing the assigned scripture readings for the celebration of the eucharist and the other sacraments.

MYSTAGOGY ( MYSTAGOGIA ) : The period of time following initiation, usually the Easter season, which centers on catechesis in the meaning and experience of the mysteries of baptismal faith.

NEOPHYTE: A newly baptized person who is in the final period of Christian initiation, mystagogy.

OIL OF CATECHUMENS: The blessed oil used in anointing catechumens as a sign of their need for and God’s offer of stength in overcomeing all opposition to the faith they will profess throughout their lives.

PASCHAL TRIDUUM: The three days from Holy Thursday evening through Easter Sunday during which Christians celebrate the passover of Israel from slavery to freedom, the passover of Jesus Christ from death to life, our own passover from sin to grace and the world’s passover from darkness to light.

PERIODS: Times of growth in the initiation process: (1) Inquiry or precatechumenate : (2) catechumenate : (3) purification and enlightenment : (4) mystagogy

PRECATECHUMENATE ( PRE-CAT) : The period of inquiry prior to acceptance into the order of catechumens; the time of initial evangelization.

PRESENTATIONS : The rites during the period of purification and enlightenment through which the church passes on to the elect the Creed and the Lord’s prayer, the cherished documents of the church, and the traditions they represent: the way Christians believe and the way Christians pray.

PURIFICATION : see enlightenment

SCRUTINIES : Rites celebrated with the elect, usually at the Sunday liturgy on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent.Petitioning for the spirit of repentance, an understanding of sin and the experience of the true freedom of the children of God.

SPONSORS : Also called Parish companions, persons ( from this parish) who accompany the inquirers when they seek acceptance into the order of catechumens and who remain with them as companions during the catechumenate until the rite of election. ( the candidate may choose to have this person as their sponsor at the Easter services also).[/accordion_item]





For More Information Contact:

Laura Bovich
Holy Family Catholic Church
5125 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd.
Orlando, Fl. 32819
407-876-2211 x 292

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