RCIA is the normal way in which adults and children of the age of reason - defined by the Catholic Church as 7 years of age and older - become full, active, participating members of the Catholic Church.
RCIA is not just a "convert class" with a new name. It is a faith formation process, celebrated by special rites during the Sunday liturgies at various times throughout the year. RCIA involves the whole community - in prayer as the rites are celebrated, in hospitality as new members are welcomed and in service projects and assistance with parish ministries.
It is most important to understand that RCIA is not merely a new way to prepare adults for Baptism. Baptism is one of the sacraments conferred. The goal of the process is
Full Communion and full, conscious and active participation in the Eucharist and in the whole life of the Catholic faith community.
RCIA helps individuals to grow in relationship with God, to become familiar with Catholic teachings and practices, to get acquainted with others in the parish community and to become involved in service within the community.
How long is the RCIA process? When are the meetings?
At St. Laurence Church, the RCIA formation is held on Sunday mornings for adults and elementary children. The process begins in September and initiation rites are celebrated on Palm Sunday for the baptized and on Easter Vigil for the unbaptized. The formation continues for six weeks after Easter during the period of Mystagogy. (Contrast this relatively short time period to the days of the early Church when catechumens, those studying to be members of the Church, had to prepare for three years before becoming initiated.)
From September to November, the meetings begin at 10:30 am in the Ave Maria Center. After the Rite of Acceptance & Welcoming in early November, all RCIA catechumens (unbaptized) and candidates (baptized) are required to attend the 9:00 am Mass. As a group, they are dismissed from Mass after the homily to "break open the Word" with one of the RCIA catechists.. There are also other scheduled events such as retreats and scrutinies that are part of the journey.
For a detailed schedule of dates and times, please refer to the RCIA Calendar link which can be found on the RCIA Home Page.