Rite of Christian Initation of Adults
The RCIA (or “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”) is a process of Christian formation – based on ancient tradition – offered to those who seek to become Catholic. The initiation of new members is a gradual process, allowing enquirers time to grow in faith and become full participants of the Catholic community. The catechumenal journey or RCIA process is marked by three major liturgical rites (or ceremonies). These rites act as key gateways along the way. Each major rite is preceded and followed by a period of maturing faith. An adapted version is offered to those considering entering the church from another Christian tradition. The process is facilitated by a team of parishioners known as catechists, who journey alongside those enquiring, though the whole community will be involved in supporting them throughout the process of initiation. The What We Believe page gives the basis of the Catholic faith.
The Catholic Q&A page gives answers to specific questions about the faith
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the RCIA process take?
As long as it needs to. According to the Church’s guidelines, the RCIA “varies according to the many forms of God’s grace, the free co-operation of the individuals, the action of the Church, and the circumstances of time and place.” In other words, it is not designed to be a one-size-fits-all process. Some will be ready to receive the sacraments in a matter of months; others may choose to spend several years in preparation. The most common pattern is to begin the process in the summer or autumn and receive the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist) at Easter.
I was baptised in another Christian denomination. Do I need to be re-baptised?
No. As long as you were baptised with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, then your baptism is valid. We consider all baptised Christians to be members of our extended family, including those from whom we are unfortunately separated at the present time.
Do I have to wait until Easter to receive the sacraments of initiation?
If you have not been baptised, yes; if you are already baptised, no. Barring emergencies or exceptional circumstances, all baptisms of adults will take place at the Easter Vigil. Adults who are already baptised, however, may be confirmed and received into the Catholic Church whenever they are ready.
I am divorced. Can I still become Catholic?
If you are divorced but not remarried, there is nothing to prevent you from receiving the sacraments.
I made my First Holy Communion as a child but was never confirmed. Is the RCIA for me?
Yes, if you were never Confirmed as a child or a teenager, the RCIA can help prepare you for Confirmation. It could be that you will not have to go through the whole programme.
I've been away from the Church for a while. Is the RCIA for me?
Not specifically. The RCIA is intended for those seeking initiation into the Church, not re-commitment. For reverts (i.e., those returning to the Church after a period of absence), we encourage you to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation – available by appointment with a priest – and we look forward to seeing you at Mass!
What are the RCIA meetings like?
The RCIA is more than a “Catholicism 101” course. It is also a time of prayer, reflection, and discussion, aimed not simply at the attainment of knowledge but at spiritual growth and conversion. The theme of each session is rooted in scripture and explored through a variety of lenses, from catechism and liturgy to music and visual art to cultural traditions and personal experiences. The meetings are led by Fr Antonio and a group of experienced catechists (dedicate parishioners who contribute their time to pass on the riches of the faith).
What is the attendance policy?
Preparing for the sacraments requires a substantial time commitment. In addition to the basic Catholic requirement of attending Mass every weekend, we expect you to attend our RCIA meetings as well (the programme is outlined below). We understand that conflicts will arise from time to time, but we ask that you participate as faithfully as possible.
I'm interested but not sure about the whole process. Do I have to commit right now?
No. You are welcome to start coming and see where the journey takes you. There will be several opportunities along the way for you to pause and discern whether you wish to continue.
Does the church charge a fee for the RCIA?
Do I need anything to attend? What should I bring?
Bring an honest heart and a discerning mind. Bring a sense of wonder and curiosity. Bring your lingering questions, your half-formed prayers, your reservations and concerns. On a more practical level, bring a Bible if you have one and perhaps a journal or notebook.
Do I need a sponsor?
Not immediately. If you decide to complete the RCIA process and receive the sacraments, you will need a sponsor to accompany you. Your sponsor must be an adult Catholic who attends Mass regularly at this parish. You may already have someone in mind to serve as your sponsor; if not, we will match you with a parishioner who has volunteered to serve in this role.
Can my spouse/fiancé be my sponsor?
While there is no rule against it, we generally encourage you to find a sponsor other than your spouse or fiancé(e), in order to build additional bonds of friendship, spiritual counsel, and Christian communion..
The Different Periods
1. THE PRECATECHUMENATE: Period of Enquiry
This is where a person (or “Enquirer”) would spend as much time as they need considering whether they want to take a more formal step in their faith journey. It maybe that they are beginning to sense the spiritual in their life. It maybe that they are starting to call on God in prayer or that they have had a positive experience of the Catholic community and want to find out more. During this time, an Enquirer should be given space to explore and to begin to respond to these stirrings. This period ends with the Rite of Acceptance, when the person feels ready to begin a more purposeful period of formation and enquiry and declares their desire to become Christian. At this point, they are accepted into the order of the Catechumenate.
2. THE CATECHUMENATE: Period of Information and Catechesis
This second, extended period of formation, is where the person seeking to enter the Church is now known as a “Catechumen”. They are given suitable formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life. Together, a “school of faith” is created, where individuals are given catechesis (teaching) based around the Church’s calendar. They are also encouraged to explore prayer and liturgy and to look at the traditions and customs that make up the Christian life. Finally, they are given a taste of apostolic witness, where the community gathers to witness to others through acts of charity or service. This period should last at least a year and should help to enlighten faith and foster understanding – affecting both the head and the heart. This period ends with the Rite of Election, traditionally taking place during the first Sunday of Lent. Again, Catechumens should feel ready to take this step. They will demonstrate a growing maturity in faith, minds and morals that are Christ-like and a more regular practice of faith and charity.
3. THE ELECT: Period of Purification and Enlightenment
During this next period, the “Elect”, as they are now known, spend a more intensive time praying and preparing to be received into the church. It is a period to allow for a greater growth in holiness, by dedicating more time to God, by seeking repentance and by developing in virtue. This time of intense spiritual preparation consists more in interior reflection than in religious instruction. During this period, a practice called the “Scrutinies” encourages the Elect to dive deeper into prayerful reflection of scripture and use this to bring about a time of enlightenment and personal renewal during the Lenten season. It is completed with the high point of the Easter Vigil Mass, where the Elect are initiated into the church by way of reception of the sacraments.
4. THE NEOPHYTES: Period of Mystagogy
This is the period, post-initiation, where the new “Neophytes” – now full members of the Church – can grow, alongside the parish community. They deepen their grasp of their faith and of the Gospel message, by sharing in the eucharist and the sacraments, by meditation on holy scripture and by doing works of charity. This period is characterised by a desire to live out the Christian life, with the newly initiated now being united with Christ in his ministry and his mission. The period – in essence – continues throughout ones’ life.
Children presented for baptism or seeking baptism between the ages of 7 and 14 are regarded as children of catechetical age. They should be prepared for the sacrament following the Rite of the Christian Initiation of Children (RCIC), which is a part of the RCIA process, specifically formulated to aid children to grow in their faith.
Get in touch
So, if you have questions or feel drawn to finding out more about the RCIA or wish to be initiated into the Church, please email or telephone the parish office.