RCIA and its Vision
Recognising the fundamental mission of the Church to evangelise, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the sacramental process that enables parish communities to initiate new members into the Body of Christ through the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The Rite was revised in response to the mandate given by the Second Vatican Council for the restoration of an integral catechumenate.
The RCIA therefore offers a ‘gradual spiritual journey’, an apprenticeship in faith that take place in stages in the midst of parish life. A close connection is therefore envisaged between those consciously and freely searching for Christ and the community of the faithful. (RCIA 4-9).
Central to the process is the invitation and call to personal relationship, ‘communion and intimacy’ with Christ, deepened by reflection on the Word of God. Throughout the liturgical year, the person, first as enquirer, and then as catechumen is accompanied in gatherings of the community, hearing the word and celebrating the liturgy. This is further grounded in experience of and engagement with all aspects of the life of the Catholic community, including involvement in its internal life of relationships and service and its outreach and mission. In this journey enriched by prayer, suitable catechesis and pastoral guidance, the catechumens are challenged to live and witness to what they believe more completely (RCIA 75).
The community recognises its own call to continuing conversion, by joining the catechumens, both children and adult, in their reflection on the paschal mystery (RCIA 4).
The published Rite contains authoritative guidance on the liturgical catechetical processes. These help adults to experience ‘the mystery of Christ, seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion, as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts’ (RCIA 1). The Rite also contains material which assists with adaptations for those already baptised and for children and young people of catechetical age. (RCIA 376-386, 242-306). All those involved in ministry (RCIA 9-16) for both liturgy and catechesis, are encouraged to read, study and pray the Rite itself, so that they are in the best position to support those seeking admission as catechumens and candidates.
The RCIA Network
The RCIA Network, formed in 1989, exists to help clergy, catechists, liturgists and parish communities in the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. As a national network, it invites membership from anyone who is engaged in the formation of adults or children preparing for Christian initiation.
The Network seeks to deepen the understanding of the Rite. It recognises the challenge of implementing it and promoting best practice. Principal means to this end include:
- Regional and national meetings, which provide an opportunity to reflect on different aspects of practice of the Rite
- A Network website which contains resources and information
- A Blog – Walking the Rite Way which presents a weekly reflection on aspects of the Rite
- A twice-yearly newsletter which affords opportunities to share news and views
- A Directory of Members updated annually, which helps members of the Network draw on each others? skills and experience.
Membership of the RCIA Network is free. There are however charges for attendance at study days and conferences.
The Network Executive
The organisation of the Network is facilitated by an Executive of up to 10 people, who can also co-opt members. Length of service is normally three years, allowing for overlap of membership and changes in personal circumstances. The Executive is primarily chosen by and from the membership of the Network. It is intended that the Executive should be representative of the Network in its balance between lay and clerical state, gender, parish and diocesan experience and geographical representation.
The Executive’s activities such as organising study days, conferences and the newsletter are solely funded by the receipts from events it organises.
There are strong links between the Network and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Two members are appointed by the Department for Christian Life and Worship. A Network member is also invited to attend meetings of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis.
Members of the Executive agree to share roles and responsibilities for the running of the Network, such as Convenor, Membership Secretary, Newsletter editor, Study day administrator and Treasurer etc.
The Executive maintains contact with local diocesan Adult Education and Liturgy Advisors, as well as with others involved in adult education in various educational institutions, national agencies and independent organisations. Relationships with international groups are also maintained and include the European Catechumenate and the North American Forum for the Catechumenate.