The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a process that the Catholic Church has developed which allows people seeking to find out and understand more about the Catholic religion, to explore the faith and some of its more common pillars. Whilst the program is predominately aimed at individuals who are of an adult age and are currently not Catholic, it has also been used by ‘lapsed’ Catholics who are expressing a desire to reconnect with their faith.
In a general sense, the program is ‘structured’ around the main pillars of the Catholic religion – the Sacraments, the old & new Bible Testaments, the important figures, etc.; these are explored and explained with the support of an RCIA team, as well as a rich diversity of materials and texts.
Here at Holy Spirit Parish North Ringwood, the RCIA program broadly follows the universal guidelines set out by the Catholic Church. We have a small team of committed parishioners, which includes the Parish priest, that guides RCIA candidates through the program over a period that usually runs from October, through to May / June of the following year (with a few holiday breaks interspersed). The guidance is primarily centred around a contemporary text developed here in Australia, titled "At Home With Gods People", although there are many other texts, symbols and reading materials that are also used along the way. What we do well at Holy Spirit is to make the program flexible and relevant, so that we may cover certain topics, for example the importance of Christmas, at a stage in the program which is actually when Christmas occurs.
The RCIA candidate usually is someone who has not been baptized before and is of an ‘adult’ age, but we have previously had individuals through the program who were baptized and brought up in other faiths, as well as Catholics who had left their faith for whatever reason, but wanted to pick it up again and come back into the community.
The team and candidates meet weekly for about 90 minutes and explore a particular subject or topic which plays an important role in the life of the Catholic Church. There is usually ample time for general discussion and reflection and questions are always most welcome. Weekly attendance is encouraged, but if a candidate is unable to make it on any particular week, they can still read the subject matter from the provided book.
It is important to note that the RCIA is a journey and that not all journeys finish in the same place. This may mean that a candidate who starts the RCIA journey may or may not eventually become a baptized Catholic – each individual must make that assessment and decision based on their experiences and responses to the RCIA journey; it goes without saying that there is absolutely no pressure on anyone from anywhere to make a particular decision, either way.
Anyone interested in commencing this fascinating, rewarding and enlightening journey should contact Holy Spirit Parish. One of the team there will be only too happy to explain the way that the program can work for you.