The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the official ritual text of the Church which directs, supports and sustains the way of faith and conversion by which adults (and children who have reached the age of reason) are initiated into the Catholic Church. Although many Catholics are not familiar with it, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults was restored to the Church in 1972 at the request of the Second Vatican Council as the normative way by which adults (and children who have reached the age of reason) are to be initiated into the Catholic Church. In 1988, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops published the ritual text we now use.
The RCIA is normative for the christian initiation of adults and children of catechetical age. The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful.
From the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults:
"The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful. By joining the catechumens in reflecting on the value of the paschal mystery and by renewing their own conversion, the faithful provide an example that will help the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously." (RCIA # 4)
"As a general rule, parish priests (pastors) should make use of the rite of initiation in such a way that the sacraments themselves are celebrated at the Easter Vigil and the rite of election takes place on the First Sunday of Lent." (RCIA #17)
"At the conclusion of the period of the catechumenate, a rite of sending the catechumens to their rite of election by the bishop may be celebrated in parishes..." (RCIA #106)
"Before the rite of election is celebrated, the catechumens are expected to have undergone a conversion in mind and in action and to have developed a sufficient acquaintance with Christian teaching as well as a spirit of faith and charity." (RCIA #120)
"The election, marked with a rite of such solemnity, is the focal point of the Church's concern for the catechumens. Admission to election there belongs to the bishop, and the presiding celebrant for the rite of election is the bishop himself.." (RCIA #121)
"The period of purification and enlightenment, which the rite of election begins, customarily coincides with Lent." (RCIA #138) This is a period of more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction, and is intended to purify the minds and hearts of the elect as they search their own consciences and do penance." (RCIA #139)
For more information please contact:
Mr. Oscar Cruz
Director, Catechumenate, Family Catechesis
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022