RCIA is a gradual initiation into the Catholic tradition and a way of life based on the teachings, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The RCIA program at St. Pius X is ongoing – anyone interested in exploring the Catholic tradition may begin at any time. The length of the entire program varies with each individual. For unbaptized participants, the journey culminates in the rites of initiation – baptism, confirmation and Eucharist – celebrated at the Easter Vigil. Those who have been baptized in another Christian tradition usually go through the same program as those who have not yet been baptized. All are received into full communion with the Catholic Church at Easter, although for those previously baptized this may take place at any time.
The Four Stages of RCIA
The RCIA program is divided into four distinct periods. As people move from one stage to the next, they celebrate certain rites with the Catholic community.
Precatechumenate: This is a period of informal inquiry into Christianity as practiced in the Catholic Church. During regular group meetings, conversation centres around the questions that inquirers bring about becoming Catholic. Each participant decides when to move on to the next stage. Should an inquirer decide to proceed, he or she participates in the Rite of Acceptance, celebrated during the Sunday liturgy, and is welcomed to the parish community.
Catechumenate: During this period the candidates (baptized) and catechumens (unbaptized) are invited to move more deeply into communion with God and the parish community. Each Sunday RCIA participants leave mass before the Liturgy of the Eucharist to “break open” the gospel that they have just heard proclaimed. We join the community again after mass. We also meet regularly to explore the Sunday readings further and to discuss various Catholic Christian teachings in the context of our lives. Participants are provided with companions from the Catholic community to walk with them on their journey toward full communion with the Catholic Church. Those who decide to become Catholic move to the next stage by celebrating the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of Lent at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Purification & Enlightenment: This period coincides with the six-week Lenten preparation for Easter. It is a time for more intense deepening of our relationship with Jesus and each other. We open ourselves to God’s grace, acknowledging our weaknesses and celebrating God’s healing presence in our lives. At the Easter Vigil the catechumens celebrate the sacraments of initiation – baptism, confirmation and eucharist – with the parish community and, along with the candidates, enter into full communion with the Church.
Mystagogy: The RCIA group meets until Pentecost Sunday. During this period we share our experiences of Holy Weekand explore our baptismal commitment to building God’s reign on earth. As the RCIA journey ends, integration of the newly baptized and confirmed into the Catholic community continues. The entire parish is responsible for the ongoing welcoming and nurturing of our new members.
Team members participate in various ways, including hospitality, teaching, planning the various RCIA rites, and encouraging the integration of RCIA participants into the parish community.
A sponsor is a parishioner who offers individual support and encouragement to an RCIA participant. A companion/sponsor attends group meetings when possible, walks with the individual toward baptism and/or full communion and welcomes him or her into the parish. This can be a very enriching experience, nurturing mutual growth.
Please contact our parish office if you have any questions or require more information regarding the RCIA program.