Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) or Journey in Faith
The group is here to welcome anyone who feels attracted to the Catholic Church, whether non-Catholic or of no faith, or anyone who has become distanced from the Church and who may feel drawn to rediscover their faith.
This programme has been followed in our parish of St Mary & St Michael's for a number of years. We follow general RCIA guidelines but, as do other parishes, try to make it personal to ourselves. It is led by a small, core group of ordinary parishioners plus the parish priest. We meet weekly, usually from the end of October to Pentecost, this timescale being sufficient to cover each period of the programme without making our enquirers feel rushed. At every stage they are given the opportunity either to go forward to the next stage or to take more time if they are not yet ready.
It has also been the practice of the core group to meet every week, whether or not enquirers have already come forward. During such a time we have endeavoured to deepen our own faith and have prayed for those who may be considering taking that first step into becoming a member of the Catholic Church.
The programme is split into four sections:
From the end of October to just before Christmas. This is a time when the enquirer can find out more about the Church and the faith in a relaxed, informal atmosphere, a time of sharing of faith, asking questions, exploring what it means to be part of the Catholic Church, of a parish.
There are different rites separating each period of the programme, the first one just prior to Christmas being the Rite of Acceptance. Before this first Rite a sponsor is chosen for each enquirer. From then onwards the sponsor will attend each meeting with the enquirer and will be a closer, more personal one-to-one support for them.
At the Rite of Acceptance the enquirer is presented to the parish community to be accepted as a candidate to go forward towards full communion with the Church. It is a welcome to and accepting of the person by the wider parish community. The parish agrees to support and pray for them in their journey. The sponsor also plays an integral role in the administering of this Rite, at the end of which the enquirer is presented with a holding cross and bible, emphasising that prayer and scripture form the basis of the programme.