Rite of Christian Initiation… Showing the Way
Sharing our Christian faith is important. Others worked in the harvest so we were able to reap the benefits of the sacraments and spiritual guidance of the Catholic Church. Likewise, we willingly try to bring this precious gift to the next generation, our faith community, and to others. One of the ways we reach out to others (non-Catholics) is through RCIA.
What is it?
You may have seen announcements about RCIA in the parish bulletin, but what is it at Our Lady Star of the Sea, and who is involved? RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.
RCIA is the process by which non-Catholic adults (technically anyone over the age of seven) are received into the Catholic Church. RCIA is available in two ways. The first is geared for those people who have not received any Christian baptism of any kind. The second is for those who have been baptized in a Christian denomination using the proper (Trinitarian) formula.
Why is baptism a distinction?
A valid baptism can only occur once in a lifetime. Once original sin is removed and a person is claimed for Christ (even as an infant), it is an action that can not be repeated. So, those who have already been validly baptized in another Christian tradition have already received the sacrament and need only profess their acceptance of the Catholic faith as the Church established by Christ.
How long is the process?
There are a few acceptable variations to the process. Here, at Our Lady Star of the Sea, we use a nine-month model. It begins in September and goes through May, meeting weekly (except for a few holidays). There are four phases; the last three are each marked by a Liturgical Rite. Then, Baptism (or profession) occurs at the Easter Vigil Mass during Holy Week.
The RCIA process is basically a guide to conversion of heart led by the Holy Spirit. A team of instructors help lead the Catechumen (candidate) through the process explaining the Church from its Jewish roots through the life of Jesus, to His Sacraments and the modern Church, and how the Church administers the Seven Sacraments.
Over the years, the Catholic Church has determined that the age of reason is seven years. After that time all those received into the Church receive all three Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist). We do have a separate education component for the youth but the process is the same.
Rita Burns Senseman, writing in The Catholic Update, tells us that conversion to Jesus Christ is a lifelong and ongoing process. “Thus, when we witness others changing their lives, giving up old ways of doing and being and committing themselves to Jesus Christ, it makes us want to recommit ourselves as well. And when the members of the parish recommit themselves to Christ, the parish is indeed renewed.” She goes on to say that every parishioner has a role to play in this process, either as mentors, as sponsors, coordinators and/or assistants, as well as members of the Sunday assembly as they remember the Catechumens in prayer and welcome them at services in the parish.
We welcome your involvement in RCIA this year. It can be a very rewarding experience.
To Register, there will be a sign-up sheet available on the first day of RCIA class, September 8, 2016.
For more information, please contact Deacon Bill Hamlin, Pastoral Associate and Director of Faith Formation and RCIA at (360) 479-3777 ext. 215 by telephone or firstname.lastname@example.org by e-mail.