The process of becoming Catholic is formally known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) or for children 7-17, Rite of Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC.) It is a gradual process of spiritual formation that includes prayer, sharing, and study and occurs in the context of the parish community. It is intended for adults who are unbaptized and would like to be fully initiated and welcomed into the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist; or were baptized in another Christian community/tradition* and seek to be received into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist; and/or were baptized as Catholics* as infants/children but have not received the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
*Proof of valid Christian baptism is required (by way of certificate or letter of verification from one’s pastor or church of baptism.)
The Four Phases of the RCIA/RCIC
Discerning the call to become Catholic requires time, reflection, and prayer. Presuming at least a one-year commitment, RCIA/RCIC is a four-phase process with special ceremonies between each phase. Participation in all four phases of the process is typical.
1. Precatechumenate (pre-cat-a-cume-men-et): Beginning in August, Inquirers who have decided on the path to becoming Catholic or completing their initiation in the Catholic Church meet weekly on Wednesday evenings with the Director of Faith Formation and a team of parishioners to continue to learn about and discuss the “basics” of Catholic life, prayers, teachings, and worship. Rite of Acceptance Into the Order of Catechumens/Rite of Welcoming occurs at a Sunday Mass in the fall months at the Church of Saint Patrick.
2. Catechumenate: After three to four months, Inquirers begin to attend Sunday Mass as a group or individually. During this phase, Inquirers who are unbaptized become known as catechumens. Inquirers who have been baptized become known as candidates. Following the homily, the group may be “dismissed” to reflect on the Scriptures for that day, discussing their meaning as well as their real-life application. They also continue to meet on Wednesday evenings to spend more time with the Scriptures and to learn about Catholic teaching.
Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion (occurs at a special ceremony on the first Sunday of Lent at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, Florida.)
3. Purification and Enlightenment: The six weeks of Lent are a time of more intense prayer and spiritual preparation for the liturgies of Holy Week, especially the Easter Vigil. Catechumens, now called the elect, and candidates continue to meet on Wednesday evenings and attend Sunday Mass as a group during this phase.
Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist (occur at the Easter Vigil – the Saturday evening before Easter Sunday – at the Church of Saint Patrick.)
4. Mystagogia (mis-ta-go-gia): In the weeks following Easter until Pentecost, the newly initiated, who are called neophytes, may continue to meet on Wednesday evenings to reflect on the experience of Easter, sharing and celebrating their new life in the Church and preparing for full discipleship in the Church.
Sponsors are vital to the RCIA/RCIC process. Beginning in the Catechumenate phase, a Sponsor builds a one-on-one relationship with a catechumen or baptized candidate, serving as a companion, listener, mentor, and pray-er; sharing her or his own faith; and attesting to the catechumen or candidate’s faith, intentions, and readiness for reception.
Church law requires that a sponsor must be a fully initiated, practicing Catholic who is at least 16 years old and is in good standing with the Catholic Church. Sponsors typically are assigned by the parish. It is recommended, but not required, that sponsors be St. Patrick’s parishioners. Catechumens and candidates may request that a Catholic friend or colleague be assigned as their sponsor, but parents and significant others/spouses may not serve as sponsors. At the Rite of Election, the sponsor assumes the role of godparent for one who is called to baptism at Easter. In a few situations, it may be another individual who becomes the godparent.
Sponsors are assigned early in the process and attend the special ceremonies of each phase of the process with their catechumen or candidate. Sponsors also are asked to be present at meetings on Wednesday evenings and at Sunday Mass with their catechumen or candidate as often as they are able.
The Church of Saint Patrick invites parishioners to consider serving as sponsors or assisting the process in other ways (for example: hospitality, prayer, dismissal and/or small group facilitation.)
Adult Confirmation Only
There is a separate process of preparation for active Catholics who have received the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist as children and now as adults wish to receive the sacrament of Confirmation. Please call the office at 941-378-1703 x309 for application and more information. Candidates receive the sacrament of Confirmation from the Bishop on Pentecost Sunday at Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, Florida.
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