WHAT IS RCIA?
The RCIA is a process by which adult converts are brought into full communion with the Catholic Church. It culminates in the reception of the sacraments of Christian initiation:
As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, these sacraments “lay the foundations of every Christian life.” (1212) The CCC goes on to say (quoting Pope Paul VI): The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.
In other words, receiving the sacraments of initiation makes a person a Catholic, with all the treasures of the Church available to help him or her get to heaven.
IS RCIA SOMETHING NEW?
While the term RCIA is relatively new, actually, the process is very old, dating back to the origins of the Church in the time of the apostles and early Christians, after Christ ascended into heaven. The current RCIA, taking place throughout the worldwide Church, bears a close resemblance to the process of catechesis (learning the faith) and tri-fold reception of the sacraments of Christian Initiation that took place for the first Christians. Over the centuries, the process had fallen into disuse, but in the 1960s, the Catholic Church’s second Vatican Council restored what we now call the RCIA (CCC 1232).
RCIA: WHAT To EXPECT
Anyone taking part in the RCIA can expect to attend meetings where they will learn the fundamentals of the Catholic faith, and have the opportunity to have their own questions answered. There will be some individual consultation to determine what sacraments if any they may have already received (i.e. a valid Baptism in another church). Ultimately, after being prepared for the sacraments, the catechumens (those receiving Baptism in addition to the other sacraments) and candidates (those already Baptized being Confirmed) will receive their sacraments at the Easter Vigil Mass, which includes a beautiful candle-lit service, a wealth of Scripture readings, and the return (after a quiet season of Lent) of singing Alleluias, joyful music and ringing of bells. The Vigil starts at sundown on Saturday night before Easter Sunday.
RCIA AT SAINT PETER CATHOLIC CHURCH
Anyone desiring to become Catholic can enter the RCIA at Saint Peter Catholic Church. To get started, or if you just want more information, contact the rectory at (715) 344-6115.
MORE INFORMATION ONLINE
Explore the following links to learn more about the RCIA and the Catholic faith. You can also see our Catholic Q&A section.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholic RCIA Treasures
The Old Is New Again: RCIA and the Ancient Practice of Mystagogy
by J. Steven Covington
Preparation for Baptism by St. Ambrose (340-397 AD)