The RCIA and associated program educates, then initiates adults to become a Catholic as an adult. You may be aware that in the past people wanting to become Catholic were required to participate in a program of private instruction with the parish priest, consisting of a set number of weekly ‘lessons’ on Catholic doctrine. After the instructions were completed, the ‘convert’ was baptised (if necessary) and confirmed in a private ceremony with only the priest and a sponsor present.
This changed after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. The current process by which new members are brought into the Catholic Church is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or the RCIA.
Becoming a Catholic
The RCIA is best described as a journey of faith which passes through a number of different phases and focuses on conversion of heart and mind to Christ. It is a gradual journey tailored to the needs of the individual – no ‘one-size-fits-all’ any longer!
The process is more public than the older ‘Instruction’ program. Candidates meet regularly with a group of people from the parish to learn about Catholic belief and practice. Various rituals are held in the church at important points along the journey.