RCIA or Journey in Faith is the programme local Catholic Churches use to help people find out more about the Church and discover what it means to be a Catholic. It can lead to becoming a full member of the Church. RCIA courses often start in the Autumn and run through till the following June.
RCIA stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and is often also called Journey in Faith. It is indeed a journey – it is a gradual process that takes place within the community.
It is marked by different stages, with special Rites which mark entry to the next stage.
The first stage is one of initial thought and enquiry and is one where the person interested in becoming a Catholic thinks about making initial enquiries, and wants to find out more. It is a time of initial discovery and encounter with Christ, with the Church, and with other Catholics. It can be formalised by attending RCIA meetings or course sessions which, when the time is right, can lead to the next stage.
During the next stage the enquirer becomes a Catechumen or Candidate, and enters a period of more intense learning, study, formation and prayer.
The Rite of Election is a special service which marks the entry into this phase. This is on the first Sunday in Lent and is attended by people from all over the Diocese.
During Lent the catechumen or candidate goes through a final period of purification and enlightenment, ready for entry at the Easter Vigil.
In the final weeks candidates are presented with the Creed and Our Father.
At the Easter Vigil the Elect will receive the Sacraments of Initiation and become full members of the Catholic Church.
After the Vigil there is a further period – the Mystagogia, during which the new Catholics are invited to reflect on their experience, and during this period there is a special Mass of Welcome for them in the diocese.