- RCIA is a formational journey of faith - a process leading to conversion of the heart and a closer relationship with Jesus who invites us to follow Him.
- RCIA offers the opportunity to undergo a conversion to a new way of life in Christ - learning the Catholic Christian way of life by being in the midst of a members of the parish community.
- Unbaptized individuals making the RCIA journey are called Catechumens, a name used in the early Church for someone who had yet not been initiated into the Church and which is derived from the Greek word which means to instruct.
- Individuals who have already been baptized into a Christian faith are called Candidates.
The RCIA journey is marked by four time periods with some milestones along the way. The following provides a brief description of each step in the journey.
- Period of Inquiry (Precatechumenate) - Discerning & Learning
In this first period of the RCIA journey, many who come are discerning whether they truly want to enter into communion with the Catholic Church.
How someone comes to consider joining the Catholic Church is unique to each individual. Everyone is given the opportunity and time to tell their own stories and connect them with the faith stories found in Holy Scripture.
There is never any pressure put on anyone to continue; rather, all are simply invited to "Come and see."
Foundational instruction about the Catholic faith is given at the weekly sessions and there is always opportunity for the Precatechumenate participants to ask questions.
The Precatechumenate concludes with the:
Rite of Acceptance for the Catechumens and the Rite of Welcoming for the Candidates.
- Catechumenate - Formation & Learning
Catechumenate means "time of serious study". This period is the first step in commitment leading to full membership in the Catholic Church. Each catechumen and candidate has a sponsor who accompanies him/her during the RCIA process. There are a number of St. Laurence parishoners who serve as sponsors and are ready to be a companion if a catechumen/candidate does not already have someone to sponsor her/him.
Catechumens and candidates join the St. Laurence Catholic community at the 9:00 am Mass on Sundays and celebrate the Liturgy of the Word with the parishoners. Because they are not yet in full communion with the parish community, they are "dismissed" - blessed by the presiding priest and sent forth with RCIA team members to reflect on the Sunday Scripture readings. As they "break open the Word", the catechumens and candidates learn about the Word of our Lord and have the opportunity to share in small groups the ways in which Scripture relates to their own lives.
The Catechumenate concludes with the Rite of Sending from St. Laurence Parish on the morning of the First Sunday in Lent and the Rite of Election at an Archdiocesan site with the Archbishop that Sunday afternoon.
- Purification and Enlightenment - "Heart Searching"
This final period of preparation, which encompasses six weeks of Lent, is an intense time of prayer, fasting and reflection. The Elect undertake a series of self-examinations called the Scrutinies and they participate in special purification rites or Exorcisms. These self-examinations and rites strengthen them in grace and open their hearts to receive God's unconditional love.
During Purification and Enlightenment, the Elect are presented with the Lord's Prayer and the Creed.
On Palm Sunday, the Candidates are received into Full Communion with the Catholic Church, are Confirmed with the Holy Spirit and receive Eucharist, the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
At Easter Vigil, the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday, the Catechumens are fully initiated into the Catholic Church. The are Baptized, Confirmed and receive Eucharist.
- Mystagogy - Integration of the Journey
The journey of faith lasts a lifetime. The weeks after Easter offer a new Catholics, called Neophytes, an opportunity to take a deeper look at the reality of being a follower of Christ as Catholic Christians.
During the Easter Season - the period following RCIA initiation up to Pentecost Sunday - the Neophytes continue their formation journey by integrating their sacramental graces with the Church's call to ministry and mission. This is the opportunity to discern new ways to live a spirit-filled life as a member of the Body of Christ in the Catholic Church.