THE CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS
“RCIA” stands for the RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS. When the Church uses the word “adult” with regard to Christian initiation, it refers to anyone who has reached the age of reason. RCIA is an ongoing process especially designed for:
At Ascension, we offer a year-round process; i.e., people enter the process at whatever stage they are at and complete their sacraments as ready.
Adults, Teens and Children (age 7 and older): journey in separate but parallel tracks, joining together at special events and liturgies. The church celebrates the primary initiation liturgy at the Easter vigil and all who are ready are initiated at that time. Pentecost is another time when initiation is completed.
Teens: Teens journey with their peers through Teen Ministry. Contact: Laura Dodson at phone: (321) 254-1595 ext 3067 or email at: [email protected]
FOUR STAGES OF THE RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS (RCIA)
FIRST STAGE: “Inquiry” (also known as the Period of Evangelization). Baptized or unbaptized persons who have had very little formal Christian training and would like to learn more about the Catholic way of life. The primary focus of this phase is growing in faith and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Inquirers gather on Sundays at 11:00 am for about an hour.
SECOND STAGE: “Catechumenate” (ancient word meaning ‘to echo God’s word’). When inquirers are ready, they move into the next phase known as the catechumenate. People preparing for Baptism during this period are now called catechumens; those already baptized are called candidates. The primary focus of this phase is receiving instruction and formation in the Liturgy, the liturgical year, God’s Word, Catholic doctrine, service, outreach and incorporation into the life of our parish community and the wider Church. Conversion is a gradual process; time is given for faith to take deep root in those wanting to become Catholic. The entire process usually takes about one year of formation for someone who has had very little religious training.
Catechumens and candidates gather weekly at the 9:30 am Mass and are dismissed after the homily to “break open” and reflect on the Word of God that was proclaimed at Mass. After Mass, sponsors join the catechumens and candidates for an hour of Catholic teachings. All this is done in a relaxed, adult faith-sharing atmosphere that invites a deeper relationship with God. The length of time this stage takes varies depending on several factors, such as when a person joins the process and how much or how little formal religious or spiritual training a person has had.
THIRD STAGE: “Purification and Enlightenment” (also known as LENT). Catechumens are now called the “elect.” This is the final preparation before the reception of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. It is a time of prayer, penitential rituals, discernment and spiritual preparation for the sacraments they will receive. Meetings take place on Wednesday evenings.
FOURTH STAGE: “Mystagogia” (ancient word meaning ‘exploring the mysteries’). The newly baptized Catholics gather again after Easter to reflect on their experience of the sacraments. Meetings are held several times during the Easter season, culminating with a brunch on Pentecost Sunday
“This process was surprisingly uplifting. I went in thinking this was just going to be a class to learn about Catholicism but boy was I mistaken. These classes dive into so much deeper than just church, it goes into YOUR relationship with God and place in this world. There is no judgement, and no discouragement. Everything is at your own pace and whatever you are most comfortable with. I made some awesome friends and deepened my relationship with God.” - Matthew Long
“RCIA was unlike anything I could have expected. I was already optimistic, as my best friend had just gone through the process at her parish in Virginia, and we spoke often about her journey and experiences; but my expectations were soon blown out of the water once I began. I've made some of the most meaningful friendships I've had in my entire life, and RCIA helped me heal from a lot of pain and brokenness from my past. Every person I crossed paths with during the process was nothing short of amazing; always willing to help with any questions, pray for me if needed, the list goes on. I found myself being constantly emotional because I had never felt this much love from a Church family before. In my entire life I have never felt so strong in my faith, and yet excited to continue my journey and yearn for more. This is just the beginning!” - Amanda C. Pender
“My journey to RCIA was quite a long one, after thirty years of attending Ascension and putting two children through Ascension Catholic School and MCC I finally felt the time was right to make it official. After coming to Mass and participating in the Ascension and Catholic School community for so long I felt like RCIA would just be a formality but on the journey, I found myself rediscovering parts of myself, my faith and experienced a deepening of my inner peace. I would encourage anyone like me to take the next steps and embrace the Catholic faith fully.” - Amanda Tanner Stillwagon