Overview of the Catholic Faith / Start of the Process to Become Catholic: Annually the last Thursday in August
What is the R.C.I.A?
RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. It’s the process that brings adults into the full participation of the Roman Catholic faith.
Why is there a process? Why can’t I just say I'm Catholic?
Our Catholicity is more than just a series of actions or rituals. It’s more than a collection of prayers or obligations. It’s even more than our scripture and symbols. Our history, our beliefs, our sacraments are rich in meaning, definition, and purpose. By joining the Catholic Church, you will unite with a Christian family of faith throughout the world and throughout all time. We want you to have the full benefit of a spiritual and rational understanding of the creed you will profess, the sacraments you will receive, and the relationship of faith you will be forming. Our relationship with God is always a process, an encounter that we engage throughout our entire life. RCIA is also a process, offering both information and formation.
How do I know if I need the RCIA process?
The RCIA is for:
People who have never received Christian baptism; called Catechumens in the RCIA program. Catechumens will receive instruction and formation, leading toward reception of all 3 sacraments of Initiation [Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation].
People who received a Christian Baptism in a different denomination; called Candidates in the RCIA program. The Catholic faith is a Christian religion. Other examples of Christian religions are: United Church of Christ, Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, Assembly of God, etc. All Christian religions share a common baptism in Christ. RCIA Candidates will receive instruction and formation, leading toward celebrating the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
People who were baptized in the Catholic Church, but were not educated (i.e. catechized) in the Catholic faith beyond baptism. These adults are also called Candidates in the RCIA program and, as with the Candidates described above, will receive instruction and formation, leading toward celebrating the sacraments of Reconciliation, Eucharist, and Confirmation.
I’m a teen or adult who was baptized Catholic and received my First Communion. Do I need RCIA?
The RCIA is a wonderful process for anyone, even fully professed Catholics, who would want to know more about the Catholic faith. Anyone who is a freshman in high school or older who has been baptized Catholic and has received First Communion still needs the sacrament of Confirmation to become a fully professed Catholic. The Archdiocese offers this Sacrament every year at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (New Cathedral) on the Feast of Pentecost (date varies; late spring, early summer). You will need several classes to prepare for this event, which can be arranged through the parish office closer to the date.
What about my children? Is the process the same if I want them to become Catholic?
There is a process called Rite of Christian Initiation for Children (RCIC).
I want to join the Roman Catholic faith through Assumption parish!
Whom should I contact?
Welcome! We are excited that you are open to this process! You will first want to contact our RCIA coordinator, Missy Lowry 314-630-3983 or you can talk with anyone on staff at Assumption 636-240-3721 .
Our RCIA program begins each autumn, usually in late August, with an Overview of the Catholic Faith [August 27, 2015, 7pm, in church]. Once a class of Catechumens and Candidates forms, they will begin weekly meetings with the RCIA team, usually every Sunday from 8am until 10am on our parish property. Free childcare is available.
Can you describe a little more about the RCIA process?
There are 4 major stages of the RCIA process:
This is a time of inquiry – a time to hear some basic information about the Catholic faith and to ask questions. With the help of the RCIA team and the community, you get a chance to explore a relationship with Christ. There is no liturgical rite to mark the beginning of this stage. This stage could last weeks or years. Individuals move forward in the process only when they are ready.
This stage is marked with a formal Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens (for catechumens) and the Rite of Welcoming (for candidates). Once welcomed, Catechumens and Candidates meet together every week to hear Scripture with the rest of the Assumption community at 8am Mass. After the Scripture portion of Mass (called Liturgy of the Word) all RCIA participants are dismissed and spend the rest of the morning (until about 10am) talking about what they heard in the Scriptures and learning about different components of the Catholic faith tradition, how we live our faith as Christians. This period ends when the Catechumens/Candidates express their desire to receive the sacraments of initiation and the parish community acknowledges their readiness.
3) Purification and Enlightenment
This stage happens during the six-week Church season of Lent. The Rite of Election (for catechumens) and the Call to Continuing Conversion (for candidates) are celebrated at the beginning of this stage. During this time, catechumens (now called The Elect) and Candidates enter into a period of intense preparation and prayer which includes the three public celebrations, called the 3 Scrutinies. Customarily, participants are presented with of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer. This stage ends with the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
The newly initiated now participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist! For several weeks (usually through the 7 weeks of Easter), the group will continue to meet after Mass to continue to talk about their experience, to ask questions, and to unpack the mysteries of Catholic spirituality. This stage typically ends on or near the feast of Pentecost. Though, for all Christians, mystagogia continues throughout our lives.
Special note, from the St. Louis Archdiocesan website: It is important to note that “Candidates” do not always need to take part in the full RCIA process. If they have been actively living the Christian life in another denomination, they are likely to need very little catechesis and may be welcomed into the Church on any Sunday after a short period of preparation. According to the National Statutes for the Catechumenate, “Those baptized persons who have lived as Christians and need only instruction in the Catholic tradition and a degree of probation within the Catholic community should not be asked to undergo a full program parallel to the catechumenate.”