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Faith Formation

 The R.C.I.A. Process - 3
The RCIA Process
The process of becoming a Catholic takes place in various "stages" and involves certain public ceremonies called "rites" or rituals. These rites usually take place at the Sunday liturgies when the community gathers to worship.

Evangelization and Pre-Catechumenate
This is a period of no fixed time or structure when those interested in the Catholic Church have an opportunity for inquiry and introduction to gospel values, a time of unhurried reflection and discovery, whereby a person begins to search out God's call to enter more fully into the life of the Church.

Acceptance into the Catechumenate
The Rite of Acceptance marks the beginning of the catechumenate. In this stage, an inquirer is now called either a catechumen (a previously unbaptized person who is seeking membership in the Catholic Church ) or a candidate (a person who was baptized in another Christian tradition. The Catechumenate is a time for nurturing and growth of faith and conversion to God. And during this period of time, both catechumens and candidates are given the assistance of a sponsor, a member of the parish community who is committed to help them in the process of becoming a full member of the Church.

The Rite of Election
Usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Lent, The Rite of Election is the Church's formal affirmation of the catechumen's readiness for the sacraments of initiation. The elect, on their part, express their desire to be initiated. Period of Purification and Enlightenment
This period of time, usually during Lent, is a time of immediate preparation for the sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil. This is also a period of purification for the parish community as well. We are all called to reform our lives according to the demands of the gospel. At the conclusion of this stage, the catechumens and the candidates are initiated into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. For the catechumen, this means the reception of all three sacraments of initiation--Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. For the candidates, it means full reception into the Church through Eucharist and Confirmation.

Period of Mystagogy
The word mystagogy comes from the Greek and means "entering into the mystery." This is the period of time after the Easter Vigil when the newly initiated are invited to fully participate with the faithful in the Sunday Eucharistic Liturgy. It is a time for further instruction and growth in the mysteries of the faith. The newly initiated are encouraged to continue reading and studying scripture and are introduced to the opportunities for Christian service.

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a process that affects the entire life of the Church. Not only the catechumens, but all members of the parish community are called to reflect on how they will experience Christ's life through these new members.

Throughout the entire process, the community is called upon to affirm, confirm and renew its own faith, to communicate its support to those making the journey toward full membership. And as we journey with them, we are all reminded that growth in our own faith is ongoing and lifelong.

Related Resources
Association for Catechical Ministry
Becoming a Catholic, University of Dayton Campus Ministry
How Can I Become Catholic?, Archdiocese of Cincinnati
RCIA: the rite way to welcome new Catholics, from U.S. Catholic 
Christian Initiation of Children, St. Mary of the Mills, Laurel, MD.
Teen RCIA, St. Veronica Parish, Howell, NJ  

 Unraveling the Mystery of Catechesis
Faith is not knowledge. Rules and rote memorization matter, but lasting catechesis must emphasize God's love and mercy, and begin in the home.  Faith is not knowledge. We might also ask the question, "What is catechesis? What is our end goal? What does a well catechized person do or say or think?"

 Unsung (and underpaid) heroes of the parish
Religious education programs begin in the fall, and directors of religious education have spent their summer vacations finding creative ways to share the good news with kids from 4 to 14. Imagine being in charge of shaping the spiritual lives of the future of our church. What an important job!  You would think.

 When are Catholic schools no longer Catholic?
From the Tablet: Does the proportion of Catholic children in Catholic schools actually matter? According to the latest census data from the Catholic Education Service of England and Wales (CES), Catholic schools in some dioceses, such as Plymouth, are more likely than not to have a majority of non-Catholic pupils.  The CES, and many head teachers, don't seem to view this as a problem. They think the Catholic ethos of these schools will be maintained so long as the leadership of senior staff are practising Catholics. But in reality, how easy - or logical - is it to maintain a Catholic school when in some cases more than 80 per cent of pupils are from other faiths or none?

Having God in the school makes these kids grow into great people. It’s not about being indoctrinated into any one religion.

Official Church documents regarding Religious Education, CCD and Adult Faith Formation

 Organizations and Associations
Organizations and groups offering a variety of services to Religious Educators and catechists in the area of Faith Formation and Parish Ministry.

 Online Resources
Resources, web links and e-groups that can be value to those involved in Religious Education on any level.

Publishing companies specializing in Religious Education curriculum and materials. See also our archive on Catholic Media: Publishers.

 Magazines & Publications
Magazines and Online Newsletters especially focused on Religious Education and Faith Formation.

Resources and sites of interest for Roman Catholic Homeschoolers.

 Web Ministry
Online resources for Catechists, Lay Leadership and Parish educators.

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