The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normal way for unbaptized persons and those who have been baptized in another Christian tradition to become a Catholic, through a process of discerning and ritualizing the stages of gradual conversion. The rite of Christian initiation is designed for adults (and children of catechetical age) who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts. By God’s help they will be strengthened spiritually during their preparation and at the proper time will receive the sacraments fruitfully. (RCIA Introduction 1)
For the Unbaptized, the RCIA gradually uncovers the story of God’s salvation for all; the mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; and the workings of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the beliefs, sacramental life and spiritual practices of the Catholic Church. The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful and in accordance with the Church’s liturgical year. Together with the catechumens, the faithful reflect upon the value of the paschal mystery, renew their own conversion, and by their example lead the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously. (#4)
For Baptized Christians who seek full communion with the Catholic Church, the RCIA includes rites and pastoral practice. (RCIA Part II: sections 4 and 5).
For Baptized Catholics who have received no other faith formation and have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist, the RCIA mentions pastoral practices to become a fully initiated Catholic (RCIA Part II, section 4).
Sorting It All Out: Children and Adults in the Initiation Process
To help you recognize who is who, what process is needed, who does what, and where it is recorded, read these stories and scenarios. (PDF)
Stages and Rituals for Unbaptized Adults
There are four stages as well as rituals that mark these stages for unbaptized persons. What follows outlines these, supplemented by numerous minor rites and possibilities. Stages and Rituals for Unbaptized Adults. Read about these here. (PDF)
Templates & Tools for Liturgical Rites
To assist all who coordinate and plan RCIA liturgical Rites, we offer templates of many of the rites for you to adapt and use, as well as tools for their preparation and implementation. More will be added as they are developed.
Templates for parish celebrations:
- Rite of Acceptance/ Rite of Welcoming
- Rite of Sending Catechumens
- Rite of Sending Candidates
- Combined Rite of Sending Catechumens for Election and Candidates for Recognition(PDF) NEW
Program or Process: the Year-Round Catechumenate
Because the Holy Spirit moves in the lives of people as it wills, they will knock at our doors to inquire about the Catholic Church year-round. Does your parish respond, “Come back in September!” or are you ready to welcome them whenever they come? Here are some resources to assist you in engaging in conversation with your RCIA team about what should be an on-going process.
- 4 Simple Steps to a Year-round RCIA Process from TeamRCIA
- Receiving Candidates One by One by Fr. Paul Turner
- Parents and the RCIA Adapted for Children: How One Parish Does It – Paulist Evangelization Ministries NEW!