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RCIA is the Call for Conversion

May 19, 2008
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults or RCIA is something you may see advertised in your parish bulletin but not really know something about. You may be asked to be a sponsor but not really know what it means or if you can even participate in the process. But over the course of the last 30 years the RCIA programs, has gone though a major transformation that in the end returns the process to the roots of the early church even though it is still in its infancy relatively speaking. Its seems to call a ritual that is 2000 years old in its infancy but it wasn.t until Vatican II did the church return back to its roots in how it brings a person wishing to become Catholic, or an unbaptized person who wishes to be baptized Catholic, into the church.

Approximately 10 years ago the United States Bishops mandated that this new way to bringing adults and children older than 4 into the church be implemented in all United States parishes. The RCIA label was assigned when they passed this mandate. In 2000, the Bishops decided to re-evaluate again. They found that RCIA process was working in some places but nonexistent in others. They felt it was important for the congregation to participate in the process and just as important as the person that was coming into the church. What is most interesting about this is the bishops so much believed in this process that they said even though there were some parishes without a process in place, they said that they were not going change the process because it was that important.

The bishops strongly believed that this process can renew parish life. RCIA is a journey and is often within the groups are referred to as one. It is also a journey of conversion for the parish as well. The parish is involved in the process now and they should be welcoming these candidates and catechumens/elect into the church. The congregation participates in the rights of ignition that the candidates and catechumens walk though.

If the RCIA program is run well it can be a great experience for the whole parish as they watch and help walk with the new converts on their journey. They help as sponsors. They also may be asked to pray for them. And if asked they may be faced with questions from them. They may be asked to share their faith in witnessing about it. The support the parish offers to their coverts is very similar to the early church and in part why the bishops want to stick with this process. As the congregation walks with the converts they are also renewing their own faith and reinforcing their own conversion.

The conversion to Jesus Christ is a lifelong process and the RCIA is a wonderful reminder to all members of the parish. It gives opportunity to reflect on the vows made in Baptism and renew those promises. This recommits each member of the congregation to Jesus and makes each one a far better witness to Christ.s teachings.
About the Author
Beth carries many Lenten Supplies including many RCIA Gifts.
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