Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
By Murray Ziesing
(This article originally appeared in 'Christian Traveller' our parish magazine)
Despite its cumbersome title, all who have been involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or the R.C.I.A. as it is commonly known, believe that the R.C.I.A. is one of the more exciting developments in church life to come out of Vatican II, a development that not only deepens individual faith but also helps to build community in the church.
The R.C.I.A. was first promulgated by Rome in 1972 as the preferred method by which adults should be welcomed into the Catholic Church community. The Rite was published in draft form in English in 1974, was introduced into the Adelaide Archdiocese in 1980 and to Norwood in 1984.
The Rite follows the practice of the early church for welcoming and initiating adults into the church community. When men and women sought to join the early church, they imbibed its spirit and teaching by living with members of the church. A whole process of instruction and liturgical celebration developed which reached its climax with the initiation through baptism and celebration of the Eucharist during the Easter Vigil.
Each year the R.C.I.A. cycle starts in August, culminates at Easter (when the inquirers are baptised or received into the Church) and ends at Pentecost. In Norwood the R.C.I.A. is organised into groups of 8 to 10 people who meet fortnightly in private homes for study and discussion of the Catholic faith. Each group is led by a facilitator, has two or three inquirers and 6 or 7 Catholics as supporters.
The R.C.I.A. process focuses on a personís growth in the Spirit within a Christian community. Following the practice of the early church the R.C.I.A. develops embryonic faith by participation in and celebration of the Rites of the local Christian community. It isa journey in faith for all who participate in the process whether they be those who are inquiring about the Catholic faith or the Catholics who are supporting the inquirers in their journey in faith.
Catholics who are interested in being supporters are always welcome, though they need to be warned that the R.C.I.A. is addictive! The R.C.I.A. process will deepen their faith, introduce them to new friends and broaden their concepts and understanding of faith. Itís not only the inquirer who gets closer to Jesus!
(From live interview with Louise Howell as part of the Parish Renewal Programme May 2001)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) started in Norwood Parish in 1984. New enquirers interested in joining the Catholic Faith come via word of mouth, advertisements in the Parish Newsletter, approaches to the Parish Office, and by encouragement from their Catholic partners or friends. Originally some advertisements were placed in the Messenger Press.
The RCIA program is organised as small groups of Catholics, especially converts, who usually meet in the group leaderís home and share their faith with one or two enquirers, with occasional input from a priest from the Parish. Sometimes there can be two or three RCIA groups operating simultaneously, if the number of enquirers and supporters calls for this. The meetings are held fortnightly, except during Advent and Lent when they are held weekly, and start with a prayer, scripture reading and reflection, followed by a set topic to study and discuss using prepared notes. Enquirers can see that whilst Catholics donít know everything, and have different points of view, they have a basic core in common and this affects the way they live and enriches their lives.
The RCIA program starts in August each year and continues to Easter with the Baptism of those enquirers wishing to join. The program then continues to Pentecost, and concludes with a home Mass. The RCIA Co-ordinator in the Diocesan Office provides formation workshops, resource material and advice as needed.
Support members get a lot more out of the RCIA program than they put in, and the only qualification is to be a baptised, practising Catholic. You make new friends and strengthen your own faith journey by participating.
Enquiries : Louise Howell 8364-0042