Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

St. Christopher the Martyr Catholic Church
309  Manson Avenue, Metairie, Louisiana 70001
Phone:  504-837-8214

    Adult Initiation Process (RCIA):  The process of becoming a Catholic is known as the
    "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults."  It is a gradual process of spiritual formation that
    includes prayer, sharing, and study and occurs in the context of the parish community.

    You may have a family member or friend who is Catholic.  You may be dating, engaged, or
    married to a Catholic. You may be unbaptized or baptized in another Christian tradition. You
    may have been baptized a Catholic, but never received the Sacraments of Confirmation and
    Eucharist.  Throughout the year, many come forward seeking to learn about the Catholic faith.
    If you are interested in learning about the Catholic faith or are thinking about becoming a
    Catholic, join us for monthly inquiry, a casual and ongoing conversation about the Catholic
    faith.  "Inquiry" is the first step in the process of discerning one's commitment to full initiation
    into the Catholic Church.

    RCIA is intended for adults who:
         1.  are unbaptized and would like to be fully initiated and welcomed into the Catholic Church
              through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
         2.  were baptized in another Christian community/tradition* and seek to be received into
              the full communion of the Catholic Church through the Sacraments of Confirmation and
         3.  were baptized as Catholics as infants/children but have not received the Sacraments of
              Confirmation and Eucharist.

    Discerning the call to become Catholic requires time, reflection, and prayer.  Presuming at
    least a one-year commitment, RCIA is a four-phase process with special ceremonies between
    each phase.  Participation in all four phases of the process is typical.
         1.  Precatechumenate (pre-cat-a-cume-men-et):  Inquirers who have decided on the path to
              becoming Catholic or completing their initiation in the Catholic Church meet weekly  with
              a team of parishioners to continue to learn about and discuss the “basics” of Catholic life:
              prayers, teachings, and worship.  Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens/Rite
              of Welcoming occurs at a Sunday Mass in the fall months.

         2.  Catechumenate:  After three to four months, Inquirers begin to attend Sunday Mass as a
              group.  During this phase, Inquirers who are unbaptized become known as catechumens.
              Inquirers who have been baptized become known as candidates.  Following the homily,
              the group is “dismissed” to reflect on the Scriptures for that day, discussing their meaning
              as well as their real-life application.  They also continue to meet on Wednesday evenings
              to spend more time with the Scriptures and to learn about Catholic teaching.  Rite of
              Election/Call to Continuing Conversion occurs at a special ceremony on the first Sunday
              of Lent.

         3.  Purification and Enlightenment:  The six weeks of Lent are a time of more intense prayer
              and spiritual preparation for the liturgies of Holy Week, especially the Easter Vigil.  
              Catechumens, now called the elect, and candidates continue to meet weekly and attend         
              Sunday Mass as a group during this phase.   The Sacraments of Initiation -- Baptism,
              Confirmation, Eucharist -- occur at the Easter Vigil.

         4.  Mystagogia (mis-ta-go-gia):  In the weeks following Easter until Pentecost, the newly
               initiated, who are called neophytes, continue to meet weekly to reflect on the experience
               of Easter, sharing and celebrating their new life in the Church and preparing for full
               discipleship in the Church.

RCIA meets year-round (June to June) every
Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m.  in the Parish
Center and weekly at Sunday Mass during the
Catechumenate and Purification and
Enlightenment phases.  Consistent, regular
attendance is expected.  The RCIA process also
includes other special blessings and prayers as
well as retreats and opportunities for service
and outreach.  For more information, please
contact Merrith and Elen Karl, at 235-3549 or
Sponsors are vital to the RCIA process.  
Beginning in the Catechumenate phase, a
Sponsor builds a one-on-one relationship with
a catechumen or baptized candidate, serving
as a companion, listener, mentor, and prayer;
sharing her or his own faith; and attesting to
the catechumen or candidate’s faith, intentions,
and readiness for reception.

Church law requires that a sponsor must be a
fully initiated, practicing Catholic who is at
least 16 years old and is in good standing with
the Catholic Church.  Sponsors typically are
assigned by the parish.  It is recommended but
not required that sponsors be St. Christopher
parishioners.  Catechumens and candidates
may request that a Catholic friend or colleague
be assigned as their sponsor, but parents and
significant others/spouses may not serve as
sponsors.  At the Rite of Election, the sponsor
assumes the role of godparent for one who is
called to Baptism at Easter.  In a few
situations, it may be another individual who
becomes the godparent.

Sponsors are assigned early in the process and
attend the special ceremonies of each phase
of the process with their catechumen or
candidate.  Sponsors also are asked to be
present at RCIA meetings weekly and at
Sunday Mass with their catechumen or
candidate as often as they are able.

St. Christopher's invites parishioners to
consider serving as RCIA sponsors or assisting
the process in other ways (hospitality, prayer,
dismissal, and/or small group facilitation, etc.).
RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults