Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process through which interested unbaptized adults and older children (catechumens) are gradually introduced to the Roman Catholic faith, way of life, and become members of the Catholic Church. The process is a blend of instruction and formation that progresses through gradual stages as it unfolds the Church’s rites, symbols, and biblical and liturgical signs. For those who join an RCIA process this is a time of commitment to reflection, prayer, study, and discernment. There is no set timetable and those who join the process are encouraged to go at their own pace and take as much time as they need. On average the process takes between eight to twelve months but it may take up to two years or more. The culmination of  preparation  happens each year during Holy Week  with the celebration of becoming full members at the Easter Vigil. During the Easter Vigil, catechumens are baptized, confirmed, and participate in the Eucharist for the first time.  This celebration is filled with the richness of the Catholic Church and can be traced back to the way the first Christians became a member of  the faith community.

The process of formation includes four stages:

  1. Pre-catechumenate – the initial call to conversion to Christ
  2. Catechumenate – period of more integral and systematic study of the Catholic faith
  3. Purification and Enlightenment – a time characterized by more intense preparation and prayer
  4. Mystagogy – marks the time which the newly initiated experiences and internalizes the initiation sacraments and enters more deeply into the life of the community

RCIA groups are held in individual parishes.  Those who would like to join an RCIA group should aim to attend one in the parish near where they live. If you do not know of a parish near you call the Diocesan office and they will direct you to a nearby parish that has an RCIA process.

RCIA Training Videos (Password Protected)

Below is a series of RCIA training webinars that were originally produced by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Each video is about an hour in length and covers a wide range of topics for RCIA coordinators and catechists. These videos are intended for use through the St. Cloud Diocese and are password protected. Please contact Timothy Johnston in the Office of Worship at 320-255-9068 or Brenda Kresky in Catholic Education Ministries at 320-251-0111 for the password to access the videos.

North American Forum on the Catechumenate
Library of Webinar Recordings

□ Evangelizing Parish: Embracing the Vision, Getting the Passion, Jim Schellman

As parish leaders and pastoral ministers, we sometimes miss the forest for the trees. We become so involved in the many details of parish life and our ministry that we forget the fundamental focus of that life and ministry. This webinar is an opportunity to be immersed once again in the deep longing at the heart of the Church’s vision of evangelization and fired anew by the passion that vision inspires. As Pope Paul VI declared, “the Church exists to evangelize.” Reflect on this vision in a way that invites you to embrace it anew and to help your parish experience this same passion for evangelization. This webinar is for all parish leaders: ordained, lay, paid, volunteer, all ministry coordinators (e.g., parish council, liturgical ministries, education, catechetics, social outreach).

Jim Schellman is Executive Director of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. He served previously as associate executive secretary of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). While with ICEL, he was one of the final editors of a number of the Church’s official liturgical books in English, including the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Jim has worked for over twenty years in liturgical, ministerial, and adult formation as a writer, editor, and presenter at the local, regional, national, and international levels. He addresses a wide variety of topics, including evangelization, initiation, liturgy, adult formation, and marriage. Jim did graduate studies in liturgy at the University of Notre Dame.

Learning by Doing: RCIA and the Apprenticeship Model of Formation, Jerry Galipeau

Ad Gentes, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, “re-awakened” the baptismal catechumenate. The Council’s vision for the catechumenate, “an apprenticeship of sufficient duration during which disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher” (Ad Gentes, 14), signaled a profound shift in the way the Church envisions Christian formation and catechesis. This webinar focuses on that generating vision for the RCIA, offers practical suggestions for weaving the apprenticeship model more fully into present initiation practice, provides a link between formation activity and mystagogical catechesis, and explores the implications of apprenticeship for all Catholic formation and catechesis.

Jerry Galipeau is Vice President and Chief Publishing Officer for the J.S. Paluch Company and World Library Publications.  He has served as director of liturgy and music in parishes in Florida and Illinois.  A past chairperson of the Board of the North American Forum on the Catechuemanate, Jerry has been a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate since 1998. He presents workshops on initiation, music, and liturgy throughout the U.S. and Canada. His books include Apprenticed to Christ: Activities for Practicing the Catholic Way of Life and We Send You Forth: Dismissals for the RCIA.

Who Belongs on Your Parish RCIA Team: A Fresh Look at Forming and Preparing the Initiation Team, Catherine Ecker

‎“The people of God as represented by the local Church, should understand and show ‎by their concern that the initiation of adults [and children] is the responsibility of all the ‎baptized” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, par. 9). This webinar explores ways to ‎invite the members of the Sunday assembly to embrace their role in preparing inquirers, ‎catechumens, and other newcomers for full participation in Sunday Eucharist.  Suggestions for expanding the initiation team in this context are shared as well as ideas for ‎their ongoing formation.

Catherine Ecker has over twenty-five years of experience as a catechist.  A team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, Catherine has done formation work throughout ‎Canada. As parish catechist at a suburban parish with approximately 4000 households, she ‎journeys with adults, children, and their families as they prepare to celebrate the sacraments of ‎initiation.  Since 1988, she has worked at the Archdiocesan level in Toronto in the areas of adult ‎faith formation, lay liturgical formation, and Christian initiation.  She presents at various diocesan ‎and provincial gatherings on topics related to faith formation, initiation, and liturgical catechesis.  ‎Catherine is a sessional professor in Ottawa at St. Paul’s Summer Institute in Pastoral Liturgy and ‎has written for the Canadian journal, Celebrate!  She is coauthor of the Alive in the Spirit and ‎Come Spirit of God confirmation program for parishes, published by Novalis and Liturgy Training ‎Publications.  She has a passion for our Church’s liturgy and liturgical catechesis. 

Identifying, Preparing and Nurturing Sponsors for the RCIA, Ron Lewinski

The role of sponsor in the RCIA is critical to the entire process of Christian initiation. The sponsor is the most effective link between the Catholic community and the catechumen or candidate. What should we look for in a potential sponsor? What kind of formation and direction can we offer? How do sponsors grow in their role as mentors, models, guides and companions?

 Fr. Ron Lewinski, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is pastor of St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish in Mundelein, IL.  He is a founding member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate and the author of Welcoming the New Catholic and A Guide for Sponsors. Ron is a frequent speaker and author on liturgy, the RCIA, and pastoral life. He is the former director of Chicago’s Office for Divine Worship and a recipient of the National Catholic Education Association’s 2011 Pastor of the Year Award.

Implementing the RCIA with Young Adults, Michelle Miller

Do you find initiation ministry with those in their late teens, twenties, and thirties inspiring?  Frustrating?  Probably a bit of both.  Explore together the challenges and opportunities and how young adults can actually enliven and renew the way we implement the RCIA.

Michelle Miller has been involved in initiation ministry and ministry with young adults for nearly 20 years at the parish, university, and national levels. This has included ministry within U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the U.S. National Catholic Young Adult Ministry Association.

Marriage and Recurring Canonical Issues in Christian Initiation, Patrick Lagges

Initiation ministers often encounter pastoral situations that are not easy to resolve because they are rooted in the Church’s laws. These most often involve the sacrament of marriage—the previous marriage of the person seeking initiation or their current or prospective spouse. Other issues include which churches and ecclesial communities administer baptism validly; who is considered “baptized and catechized’; who is considered an adult in Christian initiation; and ministry with members of the Eastern non-Catholic Churches (the Orthodox and others) who wish to enter the Catholic Church. This webinar will cover these topics from the perspectives of both canon law and pastoral ministry.

Fr. Patrick Lagges is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Ordained in 1977, he has had various pastoral assignments in the Archdiocese, including service on the Archdiocesan Tribunal in several capacities. From 1997 to 2009 he served as Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and from 2000 to 2009 also as Vicar for Canonical Services. Patrick is currently chaplain and director of Calvert House, the Catholic Center at the University of Chicago, and director of the Hesburgh Sabbatical Program at Catholic Theological Union, where he is also an adjunct faculty member. A member of the Canon Law Society of America since 1982, he has his Doctorate in Canon Law from St. Paul University, Ottawa, Ontario. He is also a member of the Canon Law Societies of Canada, Great Britain and Ireland, and Australia and New Zealand.

Roman Missal Changes in the Easter Vigil, Paul Turner

The revised Missal has introduced not only a new translation but also new rubrics for liturgical celebrations such as the Easter Vigil. What exactly is different? How does it affect our celebration of the Vigil? How should catechists and liturgical planners continue to prepare for this central celebration of the liturgical year?

Fr. Paul Turner is pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, Missouri.  A priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, he holds a doctorate in sacred theology from Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. His publications include At the Supper of the Lamb (Liturgy Training Publications), Glory in the Cross (Liturgical Press), ML Bulletin Inserts (Resource Publications), and Celebrating Initiation: A Guide for Priests(World Library Publications). Paul serves as a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and is a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. A former President of the North American Academy of Liturgy, he is a member of Societas Liturgica and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy. 

Mystagogy: A Catholic Approach to Living the Christian Life, Ron Oakham, O.Carm.

The Vigil is long over, the newly initiated have dried off, a great euphoric (and often exhausted) sigh was heard across the land…So now what? Mystagogical catechesis! But is this just a rarified ancient practice only to be used with the newly baptized and only during the Easter Season? Explore how this catechetical process is characteristic of initiation formation, especially during the Period of Mystagogy, and also the varied ways this process can be used throughout all parish ministries.

Ron Oakham, O.Carm serves as pastor of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, AZ. Over the years, in addition to serving as a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, he has served Forum as an Associate Director of Institutes and as a member of its Board of Directors. He is the author of One at the Table: The Reception of Baptized Christians.

Discernment: Listening to God in Initiation & Parish Ministry, Donna Steffen, SC

Our Baptism impels us to discern: to listen for God’s invitation as we live. Our Catholic faith tradition considers discernment a vital element of one’s faith journey.  But how do we both model and teach discernment with catechumens and candidates?  And are we realizing that discernment needs to extend to all parts of parish ministry?

Donna Steffen, SC offers spiritual direction and retreat ministry in Cincinnati. Donna has been involved in initiation ministry in several parishes and since 1988 has served as a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate.   She is the author of Discerning Disciples: Listening for God’s Voice in Christian Initiation (Liturgy Training Publications), Handbook on Prayer (RCL Benziger), and is one of the authors of the Foundations in Faith RCIA resource materials (RCL Benziger).

RCIA with Children and Implications for All Sacramental Initiation with Children, Rita Burns Senseman

Guiding children to Christ through our sacramental mysteries is one of the Christian community’s most important responsibilities. Explore the RCIA adapted for children of catechetical age and its implications for the sacramental initiation of all children in the parish. What is the role of liturgical catechesis in this sacramental preparation? What happens when we make the baptismal catechumenate the norm for sacramental catechesis?

Rita Burns Senseman is a catechist for the Christian initiation of children in her parish and has held catechetical leadership positions at the diocesan and parish level. She is a freelance writer and the author of books and articles on Christian initiation, including the Confirmation  preparation program, Anointed in the Spirit (St.Mary’s Press). A member of the team of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, Rita holds an M.A. in theology from the University of Notre Dame.

Making Christian Initiation Rural and Small-Town Friendly, Michael Clay

Some ministers know Christian initiation very well but struggle to make it work in the rural and small-town setting.  Others know rural and small-town life well but struggle to implement Christian initiation in a way that is faithful to the ritual text.  This webinar brings Christian initiation and rural/small-town ministry into a dialogue so that parish leaders may become more confident in their efforts to apprentice others into the Faith in the rural or small-town parish.

Msgr. Michael Clay, a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh (NC), is Assistant Professor in Pastoral Studies in the School of Theology and Religious Studies of the Catholic University of America.  He has served the Church in parochial, diocesan and national ministry.  He received his doctorate in liturgical studies from Catholic University and focused on the adaptation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the rural and small-town setting.  Michael has presented workshops in over 70 dioceses in the United States and Canada on the pastoral implementation of the Catechumenate and is the author of A Harvest for God:  Christian Initiation in the Rural and Small-Town Parish (Liturgy Training Publications). 

The Presentations of the Creed & Lord’s Prayer—Handing on the Traditions of the Church, Paul Turner

The Presentations of the Creed and of the Lord’s Prayer are two catechumenal rites that are often overlooked and misinterpreted. Why are these Presentations here? How important are they? Should baptized candidates celebrate them? When are the Presentations most effective? How can we bring life to these celebrations?!

Fr. Paul Turner is pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, Missouri.  A priest of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, he holds a doctorate in sacred theology from Sant’ Anselmo in Rome. His publications include At the Supper of the Lamb (Liturgy Training Publications), Glory in the Cross (Liturgical Press), ML Bulletin Inserts (Resource Publications), and Celebrating Initiation: A Guide for Priests(World Library Publications). Paul serves as a facilitator for the International Commission on English in the Liturgy and is a team member of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. A former President of the North American Academy of Liturgy, he is a member of Societas Liturgica and the Catholic Academy of Liturgy.

 Catechizing the Catechumens, Andrew Casad

Suitable catechesis typically happens between the Rite of Acceptance and the Rite of Election. This webinar reflects on the experience, principles and process of catechizing catechumens.

Andrew Casad has been the Director of Liturgy and Catechumenate at Saint Thomas More Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina since 2006. He holds a Master of Theological Studies in liturgical studies from the University of Notre Dame (2003) in addition to a Master of Arts in cultural anthropology from the University of California San Diego (2005). He is an online course facilitator for Notre Dame’s Satellite Theological Education Program, has published in Catechumenate and Pastoral Liturgy, and frequently gives workshops throughout the Diocese of Raleigh.

 Putting on Christ: An Introduction to the Rites of the Catechumante, Rory Cooney

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” is our mission from Christ. This webinar talks  about forming people for the Eucharistic life, that is, the participation in the paschal mystery of God.

Rory Cooney is the director of liturgy and music at St. Anne Catholic Community in Barrington, Illinois.Composer of a dozen recorded collections of liturgical music published by Oregon Catholic Press, World Library Publications, and GIA Publications, he gives workshops around the country on musical liturgy. In addition, he works on various institutes of the North American Forum on the Catechumenate on initiation rites and issues of reconciliation in the Church. Rory also has published articles in Modern Liturgy, Today’s Parish, Hosanna! and Pastoral Music on practical and pastoral aspects of musical liturgy.