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The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church 27)

The Inborn Hunger for God
This hunger for God is written on the human heart because we are created by God and for God.  God never ceases to draw us to God’s self.  Only in God will one find the truth and happiness for which one searches.

Step 1. Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens
Step 2. Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names
Step 3. Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

Through the ministry of the Church, adults are called to the Gospel by the Holy Spirit. 

The Rite of Christian Initiation is designed for adults who, 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.”  (RCIA #1)
It is a call to conversion from one particular way of life to a particular way of faith; the ultimate goal of Baptism into the life, mission and Body of Christ.

“Go, make disciples of all nations, and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  (Matthew 28:19)

Baptism is therefore, above all, the sacrament of the faith by which, enlightened by the grace of the Holy Spirit, we respond to the Gospel of Christ.

The Periods and Rites of the Catechumenate (RCIA) Process

     “From evangelization, completed with the help of God, come the faith and initial conversion that cause a person to feel called away from sin and drawn into the mystery of God’s love.”  (RCIA #36)

First Step: Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens

  “The rite that is called the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens is of the utmost importance.  Assembling publicly for the first time, the candidates who have completed the period of the pre-catechumenate declare their intention to the Church and the Church in turn, carrying out its apostolic mission, accepts them as persons who intend to become its members.  God showers His grace on the candidates, since the celebration manifests their desire publicly and marks their reception and first consecration by the Church.” (RCIA #41)

II.        Period of the Catechumenate
“The catechumenate is an extended period during which the candidates are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance, aimed at training them in the Christian life.” (RCIA #75)

Second Step: Rite of Election or Enrollment of Names

At this second step, on the basis of the testimony of godparents and catechists and of the catechumens’ reaffirmation of their intention, the Church judges their state of readiness and decides on their advancement toward the sacraments of initiation.  Thus the Church makes its “election,” that is, the choice and admission of those catechumens who have the dispositions that make them fit to take part, at the next major celebration, in the sacraments of initiation.
This step is called election because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts.  The step is also called the “ enrollment of names” because as a pledge of fidelity the candidates inscribe their names in the book that lists those who have been chosen for initiation.” (RCIA #119)

III     Period of Purification and Enlightenment
“This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the Elect as they search their own consciences and do penance.  This period is intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts of the elect with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior.” (RCIA #138)’

Third Step: Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

Image of falling drop circles transparence.“The third step in the Christian initiation of adults is the celebration of the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist.  Through this final step the elect, receiving pardon for their sins, are admitted into the people of God.  They are graced with adoption as children of God and led by the Holy Spirit into the promised fullness of time begun in Christ and, as they share in the Eucharistic sacrifice and meal, even to a foretaste of the kingdom of God.” (RCIA #206)

IV     Period of Post-Baptismal Catechesis or Mystagogy
“This is a time for the community and the neophytes together to grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist, and doing the works of charity.  To strengthen the neophytes as they begin to walk in newness of life, the community of the faithful, their godparents, and their parish priests should give them thoughtful and friendly help.”  (RCIA #244)

Supporting Ministers for the Journey of the Catechumenate
Catechists—lead catechetical sessions
Sponsors/Companions—join the Candidates for rituals and sessions
Dismissal Ministers—facilitate Scripture and Faith Sharing
Hospitality—provide refreshments and welcome
Pray-ers—select a candidate to keep in prayer
Director/Team Leader—provides instructional and pastoral care of the candidates and team
Pastor/Clergy—have the overall responsibility for the initiation process
Parish Community – is the primary model, support , and teacher through their active Christian lives

(Join the Team—call the Office for Initiation  440-2680)

Christian Initiation of Children who Have Reached Catechetical Age
red rose“This form of the rite of Christian initiation is intended for children, no baptized as infants, who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age.  They seek Christian initiation either as the direction of their parents or guardians or, with parental permission, on their own initiative.  Such children are capable of receiving and nurturing a personal faith and of recognizing an obligation in conscience.  But they cannot be treated as adults because, at this stage of their lives, they are dependent on their parents or guardians and are still strongly influenced by their companions and their social surroundings.”  (RCIA #252)

Preparation of Uncatechized Adults for Confirmation and Eucharist
“The following pastoral guidelines concern adults who were baptized as infants either as Roman Catholics or as members of another Christian community but did not receive further catechetical formation nor, consequently, the sacraments of confirmation and eucharist…..Even though uncatechized adults have not yet heard the message of the mystery of Christ, their status differs from that of catechumens, since by baptism they have already become members of the Church and children of God.  Hence their conversion is based on the baptism they have already received, the effects of which they must develop.  (RCIA #400)

Reception of Baptized Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church
“This is the liturgical rite by which a person born and baptized in a separated ecclesial Community is received, according to the Latin rite, into the full communion of the Catholic Church.”  (RCIA #473)
The Initiation of Adults is the Responsibility of All the Baptized (RCIA #9)

Job Description for the Faithful
· Evangelization:  Live like Christians—Welcome those investigating Christianity
· Liturgies:  Celebrate the rituals with the Catechumens/Candidates
· Election:  Give honest testimony about the Catechumens
· Lent:  Give the Elect example of one’s own spiritual renewal
· Easter:  Welcome the neophytes with open arms into the community of the baptized

By placing a call to the St. Bernard Parish Office for Initiation (412-440-2680), one is invited to join others who are inquiring about the Process for becoming a Catholic or to offer their time and talent in one of the RCIA ministries.