Exploring Catholic Faith

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults - R.C.I.A. 

It is the process by which adults, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts. By God’s will they are strengthened spiritually during their preparation and, in the fulness of time, they are received into the Church.

How does the Rite of Christian Initiation unfold?

The Rite includes not only the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, but also a number of steps and periods, unfolding over time and as the candidates are ready. These periods and steps unfold in the order described below, although the time frames will vary from person to person because each one is unique, and God works differently in each.

1. Period of Inquiry | Pre-catechumenate

At many parishes a person may enter into the inquiry stage at any time of the year. Normally, a person would approach any member of the Pastoral Staff, and then would be introduced to the inquiry team, which is made up of trained members of the parish family. The Inquiry Period may last for as long as necessary. It is a time of exploration and questioning.

After the First Period, when I'm ready to move on, what do I do?

The first step: The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens

Once a person has come to know the Person of Jesus Christ, and has reached the point of initial conversion and expresses a desire to become a Christian, they are accepted as catechumens by the Church.

2. Period of the Catechumenate

This period begins with the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and lasts for as long as necessary. It includes catechesis connected to the Sunday readings, as well as an apprenticeship in the Christian way of life as it is lived out in our parish community.

When I'm ready for initiation, what happens?

The second step: The Rite of Election

Having progressed in faith, the catechumen is accepted into a more intense preparation for the Sacraments of Initiation, and is now called “Elect.”.

3. Period of Purification & Enlightenment

This is normally quite a short period. It follows the Rite of Election and ordinarily coincides with the liturgical Season of Lent. Lent is the Church’s time for preparing for the Easter celebration and the Sacraments of Initiation. This time of purification and enlightenment and includes the celebration of several rites– called scrutinies– belonging to this period. The Elect may also be presented with the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.

What is Christian Initiation?

The third step: Christian Initiation

Having completed the process of preparation, the person receives the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist– normally celebrated at the Easter Vigil.

4. Period of Mystagogy

The final period extends through the whole Easter Season and is devoted to reflecting on the experience of the Sacraments of Initiation, and to discovering the meaning of these Sacraments in as the neophytes, or newly-initiated Christians, live their new lives.

What is the role of the sponsor?

Adults who are preparing for Christian Initiation need one sponsor, who may be either male or female. If the adult candidate chooses to have two sponsors, then they must be a male and a female.

The sponsor should be a practicing Catholic who has received all of the Sacraments of Initiation– Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist.

The role of the sponsor is to represent the entire Catholic Christian community, who support and encourage the candidate, and who are willing to share their lives as witnesses of faith with the candidate.

How do I find a sponsor?

Most parishes have a group of people trained and willing to serve as sponsors. They may suggest a sponsor from among the parish Initiation Team, or the candidate or catechumen may seek out one with whom he or she feels a bond, and ask this person to be his or her sponsor. The sponsor walks with the catechumen or candidate through all steps and periods of the preparation process. This means that the sponsor comes to Mass with the person, and also takes part in all catechetical sessions.

The sponsor helps the catechumen or candidate in four ways:
  • By serving as a witness and example of living faith;
  • By helping the person to come to know this community of faith, and its ways and traditions;
  • By sharing parts of their own story of faith with the catechumen/candidate when this is appropriate;
  • By acting as a representative of the entire Christian community, who care for and support the catechumen/candidate, when it would not be possible for the whole community to be present at all moments in the journey of faith.
What if a different Godparent is chosen?

If a different godparent is to be chosen, their role begins with the Rite of Election, and they take part in all rites of the Period of Purification and Enlightenment with the Elect.

For additional information see Resources.

Evangelization & Catechesis

Office of Evangelization & Catechesis

Pastoral Centre 

Suite 402, 33 Pippy Place

St. John's, NL

A1B 3X2

T: 709 726 3660

Director of Catechesis 

Mr. Edward Connolly 

T: (709) 726-3660 | Ext. 233

E: econnolly@rcsj.org