Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Rosa Davidson, Parish Catechetical Leader
(561) 952-2870 | davidson_rosa@stjoan.org

RCIA – Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults – is a process for people who would like to know more about the Roman Catholic faith and for those who would like to receive the Sacraments of Initiation – that is – Baptism, Confirmation and Communion. It is also for those who desire to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church or who would like to convert to the Catholic Church.  The RCIA program at St. Joan of Arc is open for adults 18 and over, and designed to help non-Catholics and non-practicing Catholics learn more about Catholicism through a series of classes, discussions, prayer times, and ceremonies. This program helps people grow in faith and knowledge of God as they consider becoming Catholic. There is no obligation to join the Catholic Church.

This includes three groups:
Inquirers – those who want to know more about the Catholic Church.
Candidates – individuals who have been baptized by any Christian Church (including Roman Catholics) but have not been confirmed. Roman Catholics who have been baptized but have for some reason been away from the Catholic Church for a long time can benefit from this process.
Catechumens – people who have never been baptized by any Christian Church.

People from all sorts of religious backgrounds join the RCIA. Some have been baptized in another Christian religion and some have not. Some have been practicing members of a Christian religion for years and some have had little or no religious instruction or support. Some are already Catholic but are seeking a greater understanding of our Faith.

The RCIA is a mix of praying, learning facts, discussing how these apply to our lives, participating in prayerful ceremonies (called “rites”) and most importantly, using all of these experiences to build and grow in a relationship with God. The whole learning process is based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

What is the process and when are the classes?
Beginning in late August or early September, we meet every Monday night from 7-9pm (please the schedule for details). Everything is presented according to Christ’s revelation as handed down to us in the written form of Sacred Scripture and the oral form of Sacred Tradition. Both Scripture and Tradition come to us through Christ’s appointed Teacher for all time: the Church. This complete teaching of Scripture, Tradition and the Church is called the Deposit of Faith. All this is summarized in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Monday night meetings include a presentation and discussion, questions and answers concerning different aspects of the Deposit of Faith. We use the Bible and the catechism as our guides through Catholic Church Teaching.

Beginning in November we start discussing the Rites and Scrutinies, these ceremonies help the group to experience within the parish community various aspects of the classes, such as the Creed, the Lord ’s Prayer, being sent to the Bishop, signing of the Book of the Elect. We also have a tour of the Church to understand more the sacred space where we meet to celebrate the Eucharist with the parish family, and a “dry mass” during which the priest explains step by step the celebration of the Mass.

We also participate in a ceremony during a prayer service that the Bishop celebrates with us at the Cathedral. All the people preparing to become Catholic at other parishes in the Palm Beach Diocese join us for this prayer service, which takes place in Lent.

Those who have not ever been baptized (“the Elect”) enter the Catholic Church by receiving the sacraments  of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. They celebrate the sacrament of Confession (Reconciliation) about a month or two after Easter.

Those who are candidates baptized in another Christian Church, become Catholics during the Easter Vigil by making the Profession of Faith and receiving Confirmation and Eucharist. Those candidates who are already baptized complete their initiation into the church by receiving Confirmation, and, if needed, Communion.

Those who are not ready to commit to becoming Catholic continue to be inquirers and are welcome to come the following year if they so desire.

After Easter we continue to meet on Monday nights for about four weeks. We continue to learn about our Faith as we grow in the experience of the sacraments.

What is taught in RCIA?
The teaching presented here at St. Joan of Arc is authentic and official Catholic Church Teaching, the True Deposit of Faith. It has been handed down to us from Christ in both oral and written form, and, for centuries, has been guarded by the Church.We do not teach opinion.

Will I need a Sponsor?
Yes. The Sponsor or Godparent is a very important person in this process. So important that the person you choose must commit to join you in a lot of the program. It is also a person that meets the following requisites:
Be 16 years or older
Must have had all the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist
Not be your parents
If a married person, must be married by the Catholic Church
Persons who are divorced and remarried, civilly married, or living together are not allowed to be sponsors
Sponsors must model Christian life and be practicing Catholics
Sponsors must be able to receive Holy Communion when accompanying the elect or candidate. Sponsors are to be chosen by early November when the first rite is celebrated. The sponsor should attend all the rites of the program, he or she is invited to journey with the candidate throughout all the classes, but at least should attend following classes:
Sacraments in general
The Creed
Tour of the church
Dry Mass
Stations of the Cross
Rites and symbols of the Easter Vigil
Rehearsal and Confession day

If the candidate cannot find an appropriate sponsor, we can provide one for them.

What is the first step?
Simple. Call, email or fill out the form linked in this site.  You may also stop by the Office of Religious Education Monday to Friday 9:00am to 4:00 pm and register in person. We ask for a $75.00 tuition fee to cover all the material that will be given to you during the year. While this is a minimal tuition no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

I’ve been baptized in another religion. Will I be re-baptized?
No. If your have been baptized with a formula considered valid in the Catholic Church, you will enter the Catholic Church by making a “Profession of Faith.” You will need to provide a copy of your baptismal  certificate to ascertain this is a valid baptism.

I’m divorced. How does this affect me joining the Church?

Everyone’s situation is different, but you will most likely need to begin the annulment process. If you are remarried you will need to wait until the process is completed in order to become Catholic. We can make an appointment for you to speak to our Marriage Coordinator to pinpoint any potential problems and offering solutions to them.

When will I become Catholic?
Generally a person will join the RCIA during the late Summer / early Fall of one year and become Catholic at Easter time the next year. Once in a while this time frame changes according to the needs of the person.

What if I go through the RCIA and choose not to become Catholic?
That’s your decision and you will not be pressured to become Catholic. Some people learn about Catholicism for a few years before deciding to become Catholic and some never choose to do so. Regardless of your decision, you will be welcome here at St. Joan.

How will my life change?
Tremendously! For the better. You will be part of a new family, you will have new friends and support and most importantly if you put your life in the hands of the Holy Spirit during this journey you will notice a new sense of freedom and belonging that only comes from the love of God.