The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, R.C.I.A., is the traditional practice of the Church for preparing non-baptized adults for full participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
At St. Mary's Church the RCIA is a nine-month process of interaction, education, spiritual growth and liturgical prayer within an experiential process. The program begins in September of each year. Most participants are received into the Church at the Easter Vigil, where they are baptized, confirmed and receive their First Communion. The RCIA program continues until Pentecost (May).
The RCIA program is specifically intended for unbaptized and unchurched persons seeking initiation into the life of Christ as Roman Catholics. However, baptized persons who are seeking full communion with the Catholic Church and uncatechised baptized persons desiring the sacramental life of the Catholic Church may be included in the St. Mary's program.
The RCIA is a four step gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful.
- The first Period is named Inquiry in which the participant makes inquiry about the Faith and the Church responds and evangelizes. This Period ends with a mutual discernment and the Rite of acceptance into the Order of Catechumens. The Catechumen will have a Sponsor who is a Catholic person who will know and assist the candidate. They will stand as witness to the candidate's moral character, faith, and intention. They serve the candidate as a bridge to the community of The Faithful and accompany the candidate through the catechetical process.
- The second Period, named Catechumenate, is a time of learning about Catholic sacramental life and worship and includes study and spiritual development. It ends with mutual discernment and the Rite of Election.
- The third Period is named Enlightenment and coincides with the Lenten purification and preparation for the Easter celebration and the sacraments of initiation. This period is especially devoted to various celebrations and spiritual advancement through prayer.
- The fourth and final Period extends through the Easter season and is devoted to post-Easter catechesis designed to incorporate the newly initiated into the life of the church community.
RCIA classes are held on Wednesdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in the Seelos Hall at St. John Neumann.