Adult Faith Formation
For an overview of how the Church guides and nurtures adult disciples, see “Adult Faith Formation,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults
RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, is the process through which the Church forms and catechizes adults who wish to enter into the Church through reception of the sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. A related program is also available for older unbaptized children.
RCIA must be a year-round process because God calls us to faith at all times and seasons. Regular sessions are run from September through celebration of Easter sacraments. However, anyone who feels called to explore the Catholic faith at any time is invited to join a faith-sharing or prayer group such as Bible study or book group, and to become involved in parish life through volunteering and developing relationships. The way to become Catholic is to be with Catholics!
RCIA meetings run on Tuesday evenings at St. Patrick Parish from 7:00-8:30 pm. Watch this site for news about how we will adapt our program in fall 2020 to meet the need for social distancing.
St Patrick and St Malachi Parishes have coordinated their RCIA for many years. We currently use the program Symbolon: The Catholic Faith Explained, available on FORMED.org. Sign up for a free account, using the parish name “Near West Partner Parishes.”
For more information, contact Stephanie Pritts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 216-861-5343.
What to expect from RCIA
Several groups of people are involved in the formation process, which normally culminates in sacramental reception at Easter.
- Catechumens are the unbaptized. They prepare to receive baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.
- Candidates for full Communion are already baptized into the Christ’s Church through a non-Catholic denomination. They prepare for reconciliation, confirmation and Eucharist.
- Uncatechized are baptized Catholics who lack reconciliation, confirmation and/or first Eucharist and who seek understanding of the Catholic faith.
- Neophytes, those recently initiated into the Church, return to accompany those on the journey that they themselves have just completed.
- Fully initiated Catholics also participate as companions on the RCIA journey. This may include those who left the Church years ago and desire to experience the Catholic faith with new eyes.
RCIA is most deeply and fully experienced in the catechumenate where multiple rites and rituals allow the catechumen to enter progressively into the life of Christ and his Church. And this must happen in community!
The stages of RCIA include:
- Precatechumenate, when inquirers seek information, share their faith story, and begin to deepen their relationship with God and discover the Catholic faith.
- Catechumenate begins around the start of Advent after the Rite of Acceptance and Welcome of Catechumens and Candidates. Members learn about prayer and worship and grow in their faith as Christian witnesses.
- Purification and Enlightenment occurs during Lent and begins with the Rite of Election on the first Sunday in Lent. Catechumens (now called the Elect) and candidates purify their minds and hearts through reflection and prayer by celebrating several rituals, called scrutinies, during Sunday liturgy. They prepare for baptism, confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. Candidates are prepared to celebrate reconciliation in preparation for confirmation and first Eucharist.
- Mystagogy, a period of entering more deeply into the mystery of faith, is the period after Easter sacramental reception. In essence, we are an Easter people as Catholics because we are always entering more deeply into the life we have in God and God’s life in us!
The importance of the group in RCIA:
Because to be Catholic is a way of believing, belonging, acting, praying, and living, the presence of a group is vital to RCIA. Those who live or work out-of-town are strongly encouraged to find a local parish for regular participation in group formation. Also, in addition to weekly gatherings, liturgical celebrations occur at intervals in the church, both as part of and separate from parish liturgies. Those seeking sacraments and those who are fully initiated are mutually inspired by faith sharing.
Wednesday Bible Study
Responding to a need for shared engagement with scripture, our inspiring, illuminating Wednesday evening Bible study combines online video lecture from FORMED.org with virtual discussion and prayer. We meet weekly online from 6:30-7:30pm.
All are welcome to attend one or all sessions of the current series, and to share (or not) their responses to discussion questions sent out in advance. Discussion is personal more than academic. Accounts are free on FORMED.org. Our parish name for registration is “Near West Partner Parishes.” Gatherings are open to members of St. Patrick, St. Malachi, and other nearby parishes. To join or get information, contact Stephanie Pritts at email@example.com.
We will continue to gather for these Bible studies as long as people continue to join them. See our bulletin or this space for dates and links to episodes, as well as other updates on current adult faith sharing and study.
A small group gathers to talk books on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 1:30pm. Under ordinary conditions, we meet in the rectory common room, and anyone may drop in. During COVID-19 social distancing, our virtual meeting is held on Zoom.
For a copy of the current book and to request a link to the Zoom meeting, contact Kathy Wadowick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some recent reads:
Near West Partner Parishes provide free access to a wealth of new and classic religious media, including great sections for children and Spanish speakers, through this subscription-based online resource.
FORMED provides books, lectures, audio dramas, feature films, studies, documentaries and more. Entertaining as well as educational, FORMED will help the faithful expand and deepen their knowledge base as they get to know the doctrines and practices, saints and spirituality of the Catholic faith. Near West Partner Parishes have purchased a subscription so that accounts are free to parishioners and no code is needed. Just use “Near West Partner Parishes” as parish name when registering.