“I have come that you might have life to the full.”
“Through the sacraments of Christian initiation men and women are freed from the power of darkness. With Christ, they die, are buried and rise again. They receive the Spirit of adoption which makes them God’s sons and daughters and, with the entire people of God, they celebrate the memorial of the Lord’s death and resurrection.” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, #1)
As our Blessed Mother brings us to her Son Jesus, it is our task also to bring others to the Lord. Is there someone you can invite to explore the Catholic Faith – someone unbaptized or baptized in a non-Catholic Christian tradition? Perhaps you know a Catholic adult interested in being confirmed. RCIA Inquiry sessions begin on Monday June 12. Contact Suzanne Bruzga: Evangelization@stjosephmech.org or call 766-9433.
R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
The R.C.I.A. is a four-step process by which the unbaptized prepare to be initiated as members of the Catholic Church through the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. This event generally takes place every year at the Easter Vigil. The process of Initiation has four steps: the Precatechumenate, the Catechumenate, a Period of Purification and Enlightenment, and a period of Mystagogy.
- Evangelization and Precatechumenate: The Church never stops proclaiming the Good News of Jesus and inviting others to share in the eternal life that Christ has won for us by His death and resurrection. Having heard the message of Christian faith, those sympathetic with the faith are always welcomed to inquire into the Christian life by contacting the parish and speaking to one of the priests or deacon. During this stage, no formal process is begun. Instead, there is an openness to the movement of God in the person’s heart and discernment of the path God may be calling the individual to walk in faith. Every effort is made to help each man and woman respond generously to invitation of the Lord in their hearts.
Beginning in the summer of 2017, those inquiring about Catholicism at Saint Joseph Church will be offered the option of a “Faith Companion” — introduction to a parishioner with whom they can meet informally outside of RCIA sessions. Faith Companions pray for and with others, listen to the life stories of others, share their own stories, and invite others to attend Mass, parish events, and/or service projects.
- Catechumenate: After investigation, a person then decides to formally begin the process of preparation for initiation. In the eyes of the Church, they become formally a “catechumen.” This period of time includes instruction in the teachings of Christ, personal and communal prayer, the celebration of ritual actions to receive the special help of God, and an introduction into the life of the faith community through various activities. At Saint Joseph’s, the formal process of the Catechumenate begins in September and concludes in the spring, with the Easter Vigil. Meetings are held Tuesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 PM.
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment: This period usually coincides with the Lenten Season, the Forty Days before Easter. During this time of intense immediate preparation, the catechumen is presented to the Bishop and has his or her name written in the Book of the Elect. As one of the Elect, those “chosen” by God and His Church for initiation, the individual is prepared for the Sacraments of Initiation by special ritual prayers, the handing on of the Creed (a statement of faith), and the presentation of the Lord’s Prayer (the prayer of all baptized sons and daughters of God). As a parish community, the Elect are welcomed and supported in special ways during this period that culminates in the Sacraments of Initiation celebrated at the Easter Vigil in early Spring.
- Mystagogy: After the celebration of Initiation, the community spends time reflecting on the new life given by Christ through His Sacraments. “Mystagogy” means reflecting on the mysteries. With the special help of God’s grace given to the newly baptized, they are guided by the parish community to reflect more deeply on what it means to be a child of God and how we are called to live in the light of Christ. Formally, the period of mystagogy ends with the celebration of Pentecost. Yet, in many ways, the period of mystagogy never ends, but continues for the entire life of the Christian who never ceases to be filled with wonder and awe at the great things God does for us in Christ.
R.C.I.A. For Children
The R.C.I.A. for Children program is the process of initiation geared to older children of different ages. The process consists of instruction classes, prayer, various rites (with adult candidates and catechumens), and special activities, such as a covered dish social with families, and community involvement. Unbaptized children of catechetical age (over age 7) are normally accepted into the catechumenal process for children. Please contact the Director of Religious Education at 717-766-2472 for information.
What about Christians from other faith communions that want to become Catholic?
The Catholic Church respects the one baptism given by other Christian communities and, generally, does not require those who have already been baptized by water “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” to be baptized again. Instead, for those who have been brought into the Christian faith through other traditions, the process of welcoming and preparation to become a Catholic is a time marked by deepening the understanding of what it means to be baptized, studying the teachings of Catholic Tradition and drawing closer to Christ through prayer with members of the parish community. At an appropriate time, those desiring to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church are invited to make a profession of faith and receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.
Baptized children who never received First Communion and Confirmation will generally participate in the parish process of R.C.I.A. for Children or the parish faith and religious education program.
For more information and to answer any question you might have about becoming a Christian or entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, please contact the parish office or speak to one of the parish clergy.