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The United States Bishops have stated that the R.C.I.A. is “renewing the life of the Church in the United States” and that it must continue to be a priority in our parishes.
Why is it a priority?
This is a priority precisely because it does (or at least it can) renew parish life. The R.C.I.A. is a journey of conversion for the person participating in the initiation process, and by extension it can be a journey of conversion for the whole parish! The people who come to our Parish doors saying, “I want to be Catholic,” are indeed “seeking” something. What they really seek is GOD. The Parish should open its arms to invite them into this process whereby they develop, deepen and enrich their relationship with this loving God.
Discipleship and Mission
R.C.I.A. is the Church’s way of forming new disciples of Jesus Christ. Through a gradual, complete and comprehensive training in the Christian way of life, the unbaptized come to know Jesus Christ through the Catholic Christian community and they learn to live as Jesus’ disciples.
Participating in the R.C.I.A. is more than going to classes on Catholicism. It’s undergoing a conversion to a new way of life in Christ. Although doctrinal instruction is a part of the formation process, the formation of disciples is more like an apprenticeship. The “apprentices” learn the Catholic Christian way of life from being in the midst of the Parish Community. The entire community helps the apprentice in the Christian way of life. Here in lies the answer to the question “What’s the R.C.I.A. got to do with me, an ordinary parishioner at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church?”
The Parishioner’s Role in R.C.I.A.
The entire Christian community is responsible for the initiation of its newest disciples. Some ways are:
A mentoring community - Every baptized parishioner has a role in initiation of our new members. By observing our prayer, words, deeds and actions in the parish and in the broader community our newest members learn what it means to live as a Catholic Christian today. We provide the examples. We are the models.
As Sponsors – Baptized members of the community serve as sponsors for candidates in the R.C.I.A. A sponsor is an active member of the parish who walks with the candidate on the journey to a new and fuller life in Christ. The sponsor is the candidate’s personal connection to the parish.
As catechists, welcomers and assistants - Members of the community also serve as catechists [teachers] for the process of initiation. Other members of the community serve as welcomers and assistants in various aspects of the initiation process.
As members of the Sunday assembly - There is one final way that every worshiping parishioner is involved in the R.C.I.A. That’s through participation in the liturgical rites of initiation that usually take place at our weekend liturgies. There are major liturgical rituals that mark the progress of the candidates. These liturgical rites are major events not only for the candidates, but also for our entire parish. During these rites, our parish recognizes and celebrates the candidates. You, and we, are signs of Christ to the candidates in the R.C.I.A.
Looking to share your talents in this ministry? If you feel that you can serve the Parish in this ministry, please feel free to contact Deacon Bob, Director of R.C.I.A., at (843) 249-2356 or e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Peace and All Good! Deacon Bob