Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

In 1972, the Church promulgated the Latin typical edition of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Its English translation debuted in 1974.  Its release followed the mandate of the Council Fathers who declared that “The catechumenate for adults, divided into several stages, is to be restored and put into use at the discretion of the local Ordinary. By this means, the time of the catechumenate, which is intended as a period of well-suited instruction, may be sanctified by several rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 64).
Originally crafted to serve the needs of mission territories, the Spirit-filled vision of the rite took hold worldwide. Perhaps few could have imagined its impact on evangelization efforts, on parish life, and on the lives of countless inquirers, catechumens, and candidates.  The Church, in turn, has been enriched by all who have journeyed with us. 
Parish RCIA team members --including priests, deacons, catechists, liturgists, music ministers, sponsors, and volunteers -- have enthusiastically sought guidance on how to implement the RCIA well and to celebrate its liturgies with authenticity and grace.
For nearly thirty years, the North American Forum on the Catechumenate provided formation on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. (For a short video tribute to Forum’s history and accomplishments, please visit https://fdlc.org/content/grants-preserve-legacy-north-american-forum.) Likewise, Bishops, diocesan leaders, and academics have routinely provided formation on various aspects of the RCIA.  Members of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), who daily serve their Bishops in diocesan offices of worship or on diocesan liturgical commissions, have routinely led these efforts.  Indeed, the FDLC is honored to be the caretaker of funds, deeded by the Forum, to underwrite the costs of ongoing diocesan formation opportunities.
With equal passion, the FDLC is now pleased to present this series of fourteen “virtual workshops.” These are designed to provide high quality formation in an accessible and affordable format.  They will cover a wide range of topics – from general overviews to detailed legalities.  They will examine the various periods and steps of the catechumenate process, recapturing the vision of the RCIA and offering best practices for liturgical celebrations. They are aimed at various levels of experience, but will be fruitful for the seasoned veteran as well as the new parish volunteer.  We hope that you, your parish staffs, and especially your RCIA team members will take advantage of all of these online seminars.  
Together, may we continue to serve all those who seek to know Christ and his Church.




Presenter: Peggy Lovrien, Director of the Office of Worship, Archdiocese of Dubuque

Even after forty years of use, we continue to discover the richness of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults – its Spirit-filled vision, its rich history, and its theological foundations.   This workshop will offer an overview of the Rite itself -- offering a deeper examination of its generous options, its pastoral mandates, and its transforming liturgies.   


Presenter (English):  Mrs. Lesa Truxaw, Director of the Office of Worship, Diocese of Orange

“The people of God, as represented by the local church, should understand and show their concern that the initiation of adults ids the responsibility of all the baptized (Ad Gentes, 14).  Therefore, the community must always be fully prepared in pursuit of its apostolic vocation to give help to those who are searching for Christ. In the various circumstances of daily life… all of the followers of Christ have the obligation of spreading the Gospel according to their abilities (Lumen Gentium, 17).  Hence, the entire community must help the candidates and catechumens throughout the process of initiation… “ (RCIA 9).    Rightfully, we have focused in the role of the priest, deacon, RCIA Director, sponsors, catechists.  But how is each parishioner responsible for the important role of evangelization and conversion?  In turn, how does this encourage us to reflect on the value of the paschal mystery (RCIA 4) and our ongoing conversion?


Presenter (Spanish):  Deacon Modesto Cordero, Director of the Office of Worship, Diocese of Honolulu

"El pueblo de Dios, representado por la iglesia local, debe entender y mostrar su preocupación de que la iniciación de los ids de los adultos la responsabilidad de todos los bautizados (Ad Gentes, 14).  Por lo tanto, la comunidad debe siempre ser completamente preparada en pos de su vocación apostólica para dar ayuda a quienes buscan a Cristo. En las diversas circunstancias de la vida cotidiana... todos los seguidores de Cristo tienen la obligación de difundir el Evangelio según sus capacidades (Lumen Gentium, 17).  Por lo tanto, toda la comunidad debe ayudar a los candidatos y catecúmenos durante todo el proceso de iniciación... "(RICA 9).    Con razón, nos hemos centrado en el papel del sacerdote, diácono, Director de la RCIA, patrocinadores, catequistas.  Pero ¿cómo es cada feligrés responsable del papel importante de evangelización y conversión?  A su vez, ¿cómo esto nos animan a reflexionar sobre el valor del misterio Pascual (RCIA 4) y nuestra conversión continua?


Presenter: Sr. Donna Steffen, SC – Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati

“The rite of initiation is suited to a spiritual journey of adults that varies according to the many forms of God’s grace, the free cooperation of individuals, the action of the Church and the circumstances of time and place” (RCIA 5).  No two stories are alike. No two individuals are the same.   Throughout this journey, the Church expects prayerful reflection and discernment of God’s will.    How can pastors, sponsors, and catechists offer effective pastoral conversations which aid in this reflection? 


Presenter:  Clare Collela, Diocese of San Bernardino, Cal State University, and Assumption Parish

“Those who have already been baptized in another Church or ecclesial community should not be treated as catechumens or so designated. Their doctrinal and spiritual preparation for reception into full Catholic communion should be determined according to the individual case, … on the extent to which the baptized person has led a Christian life within a  community of faith and has been appropriately catechized …” (National Statute for the Catechumenate, 30).  How can we best journey with uncatechized Catholics or those baptized in another Christian community?   Which rites do we celebrate?  Which are optional?  How frequently do we celebrate the Rite of Reception and other sacraments?  Most importantly, how do we respect their baptismal status?


Presenter:  Mr. Jay Freel Landry, Pastoral Associate, St. Basil Church, Diocese of Kalamazoo

For those seeking to know Jesus, the process of conversion begins with God’s call.  We assist in this invitation when we welcome the inquirer into our community and invite him/her to “come and see.”  The Period of the evangelization of precatechumenate “is of great importance and as a rule should not be omitted” (RCIA 36).  How can we most effectively draw the inquirer into the mystery of God’s love (RCIA 37), offer them a suitable explanation of the Gospel (38), and provide opportunities for them to meet families and groups of Christians (38)? 


Presenter:  Mr. Eliot Kapitan, retired Director of the Office of Worship and the Catechumenate, Diocese of Springfield in Illinois

“Assembling publicly for the first time, the [inquirers] who have completed the period of the precatechumenate declare their intention to the church and the Church, in turn, carrying out its apostolic mission, accepts them as persons who intend to become its members. God showers his grace on the candidates, since the celebration manifests their desire publicly and marks their reception and first consecration by the Church” (RCIA 41).

Similarly, the Church welcomes candidates who are seeking to complete their Christian initiation or to be received into the full communion of the Church.  The prayers and rituals of the Rite of Welcome “acknowledges that these candidates are already part of the community because they have been marked by baptism. Now the church surrounds them with special care and support as they prepare to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit in confirmation and take their place at the banquet table of the Lord’s sacrifice” (RCIA 412). 

What are the theological implications of these rites?  What distinguishes them?   How often are they celebrated?  How richly are they executed by the presider and assembly? 


Presenter: Dr. Diana Dudoit-Raiche, University of Dallas

The catechumenate is an extended period during which the [catechumens] are given suitable pastoral formation and guidance aimed at training them in the Christian life.    The RCIA’s famous “Paragraph 75” provides the model for all catechumenal formation, indeed for all catechesis.  It encourages 1) a suitable catechesis planned to be gradual and complete in its coverage, accommodated to the liturgical year, and solidly supported by celebrations of the word; 2) a growing acceptance of the Christian way of life; 3) the celebration of suitable liturgical rites; and 4) active participation in apostolic works and the spread of the Gospel. 

How does your parish catechumenal process measure up against these standards?  How can clergy, catechists, RCIA teams, and the entire parish form our catechumens in the Christian life?


Presenter:  Sr. Sandra DeMasi, St. Rose of Lima, Short Hills, NJ, Diocese of Newark

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults provides pastoral advice and adapted rites for non-baptized children who have attained the use of reason and are of catechetical age.  “Such children are capable of nurturing a personal faith and of recognizing an obligation of conscience” (RCIA 252).  The initiation of these children requires both a conversion that is personal and somewhat developed, according to their age and educational level (cf. RCIA 253).  Their formation is gradual and is influenced by their companions and parents.

This session will examine the particular needs of children of catechetical age, the selected adapted rites which the RCIA provides, and the clear directives about their full initiation at the same celebration (National Statutes for the Catechumenate, 14, 18).


Presenter: Mr. D. Todd Williamson, Director of the Office for Divine Worship, Archdiocese of Chicago

The celebration of the Rite of Election (or Enrollment of Names) closes the period of the catechumenate.   In this ancient rite of the Church, the Bishop listens to the testimony of the sponsors, godparents, and assembly.  Based upon this testimony, he judges their state of readiness and “elects” or “chooses” them to receive the sacraments of initiation.   “The step is called election because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts” (RCIA 119). 

Similarly, the RCIA provides an optional rite entitled the “Call to Continuing Conversion” which may be celebrated by the pastor of the parish (RCIA 448) or in combination with a diocesan celebration of the Rite of Election.  The presider recognizes the candidates’ “desire to be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit and to have a place at Christ’s Eucharistic table” (RCIA 454).

This session will take a closer look at the theological, ecclesiological, and pastoral implications of these two rites and offer insights into their proper celebration.


Presenter: Mr. Timothy Johnston, Director of the Office of Worship, Diocese of St. Cloud

“The period of purification and enlightenment, which the rite of election begins, customarily coincides with Lent. In the liturgy and liturgical catechesis of Lent, the reminder of baptism already received or the preparation for its reception, as well as the theme of repentance, renew the entire community along with those being prepared to celebrate the paschal mystery, in which each of the elect will share through the sacraments of initiation. For both the elect and the local community, therefore, the Lenten season is a time for spiritual recollection in preparation for the celebration of the paschal mystery” (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. This period is intended as well to enlighten the minds and hearts with a deeper knowledge of Christ the Savior” (RCIA 139).

The season is marked by a plethora of rich readings and ancient liturgies – three Scrutinies, the Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed, and the Preparation Rites.  This session will examine each of these rites and the progressive way they prepare the elect (and all of us) for the Easter sacraments.


Presenter: Mrs. Rita A. Thiron, Executive Director, FDLC

The third step in the Christian initiation of adults is the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Through this final step, the elect receive pardon for their sins, are admitted into the people of God, are graced with the Gifts of the Holy Spirt, and share in the Eucharistic meal (cf. RCIA  206).

This session will examine the celebration of the sacraments of initiation within Easter Vigil (and at times outside Easter Vigil), while bearing in mind that these sacraments are always to be received in a single celebration (National Statutes 14). 

Similarly, we will explore the Rite of Reception into Full Communion which can be celebrated frequently throughout the year as a baptized candidate is deemed ready.


Presenter:  Mrs. Karen Kane, Director of the Office of Worship, Archdiocese of Cincinnati

“The celebration of the sacraments is followed by the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy. This is the time for the community and the neophytes together to grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and doing works of charity. … The neophytes are, as the term “mystagogy” suggests, introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of mysteries through the Gospel message they have learned and above all through their experience of the sacraments they have received”  (RCIA 244-245).

The period’s main setting is the Sunday Masses of the Easter season.  Besides being occasions for the newly-baptized to gather with the community and share in the sacraments, these Masses have powerful orations and suitable readings which induce the Neophytes (and all of us) to reflect on the sacraments of initiation. 

How richly do we celebrate the Masses of the Easter Season?  How effectively do we continue to gather with our Neophytes and those recently received into the Church?  How can we best embrace them into the sacramental life of the Church?  This workshop will examine the vision of the rite and our pastoral practice in light of it.


Presenter: Mrs. Rita A. Thiron, Executive Director, FDLC

In November 1986, the United States Bishops passed thirty-seven statutes related to the process of Christian initiation. By early 1988, they were approved by the Vatican.  This session will examine these important, but often-neglected mandates which serve as particular law for the dioceses of the United States.  They are designed to inform and impact pastoral practice, sacramental policies, and liturgical celebrations regarding catechumens, candidates, uncatechized Catholics, and children of catechetical age.  Clergy, RCIA teams, and parish staffs should be familiar with the Statutes’ content and wisdom.


Presenter: Rev. Jan Michael Joncas, St. Thomas University

The primary duty of priests is the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all.” (Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 4, Second Vatican Council).    Other presbyteral duties are considered in light of this primary responsibility.   The various rites which are contained in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and the Sacred Scripture which has been appointed to them are seamless.  They both provide rich fodder for the enlightenment of catechumens and candidates, as well as the entire assembly. 

This session will explore the principles of preparing homilies which not only enrich the assembly’s understanding of Scripture but also draw out the rich theology of the ritual text. 



We are indebted to the members of our Christian Initiation Task Force who have been meeting for nearly two years. This group of over forty dedicated members have been planning the scope and content of each of these fourteen workshops. Many will serve as presenters. Spanish-language versions of these topics are also in the works. Versiones en Español de estos temas están también en las obras.

The FDLC is very grateful to Liturgy Training Publications of the Archdiocese of Chicago. They have been a welcome partner and will assist  with the registration process and the technology of hosting these virtual workshops.