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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new Catholics through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).


  • What is RCIA?

    The Catholic Church has a special way of initiating adults into the Catholic faith. It is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). RCIA formation encompasses all aspects of the Christian life.

    RCIA takes place within a parish so participants can share in the life of the Church through a local faith community. It offers a way to grow in knowledge of Christ and the Catholic faith in company with others on a similar journey.

  • Who is RCIA for?

    RCIA is for all those seeking to become members of the Catholic Church.

    The non-baptised (Catechumens) who are suitably prepared are received into the Catholic Church by the reception of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Those who are already baptised (Candidates), following a period of preparation, are welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church by the reception of the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.

  • What is meant by coming into full communion with the Church?
    Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for already baptized Christians. In most cases, these individuals make a profession of faith but are not baptized again. To prepare for this reception, the people, who are called Candidates, usually participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Although some preparation may be with Catechumens preparing for baptism, the preparation for Candidates is different since they have already been baptized and committed to Jesus Christ, and many have also been active members of other Christian communities. The Candidates may be received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil or at another Sunday during the year depending on pastoral circumstances and readiness of the Candidate.
  • Is there a program for Catholics who have drifted from the Faith and want to return?

    Catholics who have been Baptized, Confirmed and received Holy Communion but then drifted from the faith may return to the Church through the Sacrament of Penance.

Periods of RCIA

Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate

Inquiry and Introduction

Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church. After a conversation with a priest or RCIA director, the person, known as an "inquirer," may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.
Next Step: Rite of Acceptance

Period of the Catechumenate

Catechesis: the Passing on of the Faith

The inquirer is accepted into the Order of Catechumens through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a Catechumen.

During this time, the Catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they need to make to respond to God's inspiration, and what Baptism in the Catholic Church means. When a Catechumen and the priest and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election. Even before the Catechumens are baptized, they have a special relationship to the Church.

Next Step: Rite of Election

Period of Purification & Enlightenment

Spiritual Preparation

In the Diocese of Savannah, the Rite of Election is celebrated on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday and the First Sunday of Lent. Catechumens and Candidates should be accompanied by their sponsors, and are encouraged to invite all who have had a part in their formation to attend, particularly those on the RCIA team. Family members and other interested individuals in the parish should be encouraged to make a pilgrimage with them for the solemn occasion.

The Catechumens publicly express their desire for baptism to the diocesan bishop and their names are recorded in a Diocesan Book of the Elect.

Next Step: Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

Incorporation into the Body of Christ

The days of Lent are the final Period of Purification and Enlightenment leading up to the Easter Vigil. Lent is a period of preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the Elect, and prayers for them by the parish communities.

The Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation takes place during the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday when the Elect receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is fully initiated into the Catholic Church.

Period of Post Baptismal Catechesis, Mystagogy

Neophyte: “Newly Planted"

The newly–initiated Catholics continue their formation and education in the Period of the Post Baptismal Catechesis, which is also called Mystagogy. This period continues at least until Pentecost. During this period the newly baptized members reflect on their experiences at the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition they reflect on how they will serve Christ and help in the Church's mission and outreach activities.

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