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What to become Catholic? Join RCIA? This is a phrase you may see in your church bulletin. But what is RCIA a program that is somewhat unfamiliar to long time Catholics. So what is RCIA and where did it come from?

Most people are shocked to find out that RCIA has been around since the beginning of the Catholic Church and dates back to the Twelve Apostles. Okay so it wasn’t called RCIA that’s the 20th century name that was applied to the program. RCIA stands for the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  So where did this name come from.

There are three sacraments of the Catholic church that are initiation sacraments. They are Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. To become Catholic, those are the three sacraments an adult would need to receive. Children who are raised Catholic receive these sacraments over time. Baptism is done as baby. Eucharist is at approximately the age of 7 or second grade. And then Confirmation which is usually received within the teen years but that age fluctuates between dioceses. The Bishop decides what the proper age for his dioceses is.

Anyone over the age of consent, usually 7-9 years old who are not catholic but wish to become catholic must go through the RCIA process.

Back after Jesus died the Apostles went out to convert as many people to Christianity. However, Christians were persecuted and thus it made it very hard to do this. So what would happen is the people who wished to convert lived in community with the church. They lived together.  They worked together. They study scripture and learned the ways of the church together. And after the end of a year they received the sacraments.  This practice stayed in place though the 15th century.

In the 15th century there was a shift in policy because of the large number of Christians. There were no more floods of people coming to the church only children that were done as infant baptism.  From the 15th century though 1988 the process remained this way. Most Pre Vatican II converts came in through a weekly meeting with a priest.  But during Vatican II there were procedures put In place that wouldn’t be unpacked until 1988

Vatican II required people converting to Catholicism to return to the ways of the early church with a year of studying with the church. In 1972 there were procedures put into place to start and RCIA process. There was no real program defined just a general idea that each church could make their own as long as the core curriculum was covered.

Many of the churches ignored this because without structure it would be difficult to bring about the changes Vatican II said. There were staffing concerns and as time moved on the lack of religious put the program in the hands of the laity. But there was many reasons why it was ignored. So in 1988 the Bishops stepped in and said the program will be adhered to and in effect stopped all private preparation for sacraments.

Since that time most parish have an RCIA program. A simple call to their office will allow any prospective person who wants to convert to join in a program that dates back to the time of Christ.



Up a level: Sacraments
Related Topics:
  • First Communion
  • Confirmation
  • Baptism
  • Below is a list of articles with the most recent ones listed first.
    RCIA and What It Means
    When an adult decides to become part of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church has a ritual that welcomes them. This ritual, which includes baptism, first communion and confirmation all in one ceremony, is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).
    Published: Tuesday 24 November, 2009
    How do you become Catholic?
    How Do you Become Catholic.
    Published: Sunday 09 March, 2008
    RCIA The return of the Catechumenate
    RCIA has a long history which only returned it to the original process.
    Published: Saturday 08 March, 2008
    RCIA Process is a Call for Conversion to All
    Bishops changes to the RCIA program so the call to conversion is for all in the parish.
    Published: Saturday 08 March, 2008
    The Rite of Sending and Election
    What is the Rite of Sending and Election and how does the whole parish participate.
    Published: Monday 11 February, 2008
    Displaying 1 to 5 (of 5 articles) Result Pages:  1