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A Personal Perspective

By India Dougherty

A Personal Perspective

Rediscovering the Faith: Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Every year at the Easter Vigil, thousands are welcomed into full communion with the Catholic Church. Many people are unaware of the preparation needed before receiving the sacraments for the first time. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to be a sponsor a total of three times. Bringing people to the Catholic faith has always been something that makes me extremely proud to be Catholic and my heart flutter with joy. It is so beautiful to see the physical fulfillment of Jesus’ call to go out into all the world and tell the Good News.

As a cradle Catholic, I was taught my faith courtesy of faith formation classes, and, to be honest, I stored some of that knowledge all the way in the back of my head. It wasn’t until I was older, helping other people through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA process, that I began to understand so much more about the faith. RCIA is a wonderful journey for new converts as well as cradle Catholics. The class not only explains many devotions, but it also answers the big questions converts have about Catholicism. Rediscovering this information kindled my love for God and His Church. As a result, I share my faith whenever possible, which gives me the chance to answer some of those big questions. In doing so, I am evangelizing for Christ and His Church. After all, you never know how your faith in Jesus Christ will lead others closer to their own.

Regarding the RCIA process, it begins with the period of evangelization and precatechumenate. It is here that one learns about the Catholic faith and begins to dive deeper into that desire to learn. Those who have already been baptized in another Christian church are referred to as candidates. Catechumens are those who have not yet been baptized. In preparation for the Rite of Election, catechumens and candidates will attend a Rite of Sending at their local parish. This is the time for the candidates and catechumens to express to their parish that they have gone through the RCIA process with the proper catechesis and are ready to be accepted into the Church.

Catechumens select a Catholic Godparent to help mentor them and assist them whenever they have questions. The Godparent is there to stand with them and guide them through their entire journey to full communion with the Church. As for the candidate, they choose a sponsor to help and guide them through their journey.

When an individual is ready for baptism in the Catholic Church, they attend the Rite of Election. At which time the names of all catechumens seeking baptism at Easter Vigil are enrolled in the Book of the Elect. Every catechumen has the opportunity to meet the bishop and express their desire to be baptized in the Church. After this ceremony, the catechumens are known as the elect and can proceed with receiving the sacraments at the Easter Vigil.

As a way to recognize their continued journey, candidates attend the Call to Continuing Conversion. As a reminder of their baptism, candidates are usually called to the baptismal font to make the Sign of the Cross. In addition to greeting the bishop, they express their commitment to their faith journey.

This year, I was blessed to be a sponsor for one of my friends, so we attended the Call to Continuing Conversion at the Cathedral of St. Paul on March 6. I was also able to attend the Rite of Election the same day. Seeing so many wishing to join the Church amazed us both.

For so many reasons, Lent has always been my favorite season in the liturgical year. I love the opportunity to prepare our hearts for Holy Week and to remember Jesus Christ and His Passion on the cross. Another reason I love this season is seeing new Catholics being welcomed into the Church and receiving the sacraments of initiation – it brings tears to my eyes every time!

As the candidates and catechumens continue their faith journey, let us keep them in our prayers, and if you have the opportunity to attend the Easter Vigil this year, I highly recommend going – you won’t regret it!