Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (“RCIA”)


What is Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (“RCIA”)?

The RCIA is a process of initiation into the Catholic Church for adults. This process prepares adults to receive the sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist). While the formal RCIA process tends to end sometime after initiation, the RCIA journey continues where as a baptised Catholic, one will continue to be lifelong and joyful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Who can join RCIA?

  • Anyone who is interested to find out more about Jesus and the Catholic Church. There is no obligation to get baptised and one is free to leave (and return!) anytime.

  • Baptised Catholic who has not received all the Sacraments of Initiation may join in with the catechumens as they are also being prepared to receive the sacraments of initiation. However, confirmation candidates need only to attend the Rite of Confirmation held during the Easter Vigil Mass. The Catechumenate is a time of formal catechesis and immersion in the life of the church.

The Process

The RCIA process is broken up into four periods:

I. Evangelisation and Pre-catechumenate

As an Inquirer, this is a time for one to ask questions about the Catholic faith, be introduced to Gospel values, and experience the beginnings of faith.

This includes:

✔ Examining God’s presence in our lives, past and present.
✔ Learning about prayer.
✔ Fostering conversion.
✔ Developing or improving our relationship with God, experiences of trust.
✔ Getting to know the Church.

If one feels that one is ready and would like to take the next step, and the RCIA team of facilitators together with the clergy concur, this period concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.

The Rite of Acceptance is the first rite of the RCIA process. It takes place within the context of a Sunday Mass. Those wishing to enter into the second phase of the RCIA (the Catechumenate) make public commitment to accept the way of the cross.

Please note it is not necessary for one seeking only Sacrament of Confirmation to take part in the Rite of Acceptance. However, one is welcome to take part in the Rite if one wishes to.

II. Catechumenate

As a Catechumen, this is a time of formation to bring one’s faith and conversion to maturity. It is an extended period during which time there is a maturity of faith through participation in celebrations of the Word and catechesis to learn about Catholic faith, teachings, the Christian way of life, liturgical rites and apostolic witness. Catechumens are encouraged to continue to build community within the group and get more involved in parish activities and to know the parish community.

Catechumens are asked to continue to:

✔ Examine God’s presence in their lives, past and presence.
✔ Develop prayer life, enter into the communal worship of the parish.
✔ Foster conversion.
✔ Develop and improve their relationship with God.

If one feels that one is ready and would like to take the next step towards initiation, and the RCIA team of facilitators together with the clergy concur, this period concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Election/Enrollment of Names where there will be a diocesan-wide celebration of Catechumens.

The Rite of Election:

✔ It is a celebration that is usually held at the Diocesan level.
✔ It is celebrated on the same day (1st Sunday of Lent) in many of the Dioceses around the world.
✔ It is called “Election” because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts.
✔ It is also called “Enrollment of Names” because as a pledge of fidelity the candicates inscribe their names in the book that lists those who have been chosen for initiation.
✔ The catechumes’names are publicly declared to all present. This signifies their intention to be initiated at the Easter Vigil. The Bishop joyfully welcomes those to be baptised as children of God.

The Rite of Sending is often celebrated in a parish the week before the Rite of Election. This rite offers the local community the opportunity to express its approval of the catechumens and to send them forth to the celebration of election assured of the parish’s care and support.

III. Purification and Enlightenment

As an Elect, this period (usually during Lent) preceding one’s initiation is meant to be a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion, marked by the celebration of the scrutinies and preparation for the Rites of the Sacraments of Initiation. During this time, one is still free to make a final decision whether one wishes to be fully initiated into the church.

This is a time for:

✔ Repentance. It coincides with the Lenten preparation for the Easter celebration.
✔ Examining areas of sinfulness and weakness in our lives, and asking for God’s help in healing these areas.
✔ Prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
✔ Preparation for receiving the Sacraments of Initiation.

The Scrutinies will be celebrated (with the unbaptised only) on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Sundays of Lent. The purpose is to uncover, in order to heal all that is “weak, defective or sinful” and to bring out, in order to strengthen all that is “upright, strong and good”. Through the praying of the scrutinies, the elect grow in their understanding of the mystery of sin and also their desire for freedom from sin and salvation from Christ.

  • 1st Scrutiny of the Elect (Presentation of the Creed)
  • 2nd Scrutiny of the Elect
  • 3rd Scrutiny of the Elect (Presentation of the Lord’s Prayer)

Celebration of the Rites of the Sacraments of Initiation
On the night of the Easter Vigil (the night we celebrate new life through death), we celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism (for the Catechumens), Confirmation and Eucharist. In ceremonies that can be traced back to the year 200 A.D., the whole parish community renews its own baptismal commitment as it welcomes new members into its midst. It is the culmination to the journey of conversion, but certainly not the end of that journey.

IV. Mystagogy/Postbaptismal Catechesis

Now that one has been initiated, as a neophyte, one is fully a part of the community. Mystagogia means to reflect on the mysteries, it is the experience of God that is both alluring yet causes us to stand back in awe. The primary place of mystagogy is with the liturgical assembly at the Sunday eucharist.

This is a time for deepening of one’s faith:

✔ Living a sacramental life.
✔ Living out the gospel way of life.
✔ Becoming more involved in the parish.

How long is RCIA?

RCIA journeys have varying lengths. As a general guide, the journey is about 2 years – from one’s time of inquiry till a couple of weeks after baptism.

If one finds that one needs more time to figure out if one really has the desire to join the Catholic Church, one needs not rush the decision as the duration of the catechumenate should be long enough for the conversion and faith of the catechumens to become strong.

Godparent or Sponsor

Since a godparent accompanies one in one’s faith journey, s/he must be a baptised and confirmed Catholic in good standing with the Church. One could ask a Catholic relative or friend whose faith one finds mature and strong. One may not ask one’s biological parent; a non-Catholic; or anyone under the age of 16, to be one’s godparent. One can have one godmother and/or one godfather, but no more than that.

Godparent or Sponsor is required to be present at the following rites:

✔ Rite of Acceptance
✔ Rite of Sending
✔ Rite of Election
✔ 1st Scrutiny of the Elect
✔ 2nd Scrutiny of the Elect
✔ 3rd Scrutiny of the Elect
✔ Rite of Initiation

Special circumstances

  • Non-Catholic baptism: The Catholic Church recognizes baptisms of Christian communities which are carried out with water, “in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. If one’s baptism is considered valid, one will not be re-baptised. Instead, one will undergo the RCIA programme as a “candidate”, preparing for the other two Sacraments of Christian Initiation: Confirmation and Holy Communion. If one’s baptism was not valid (e.g. “in the name of Jesus”), one will be baptised. If there is doubt about the validity of one’s baptism (e.g. if one does not know what words were used), one will be baptised conditionally.

  • Divorcee: Divorce is no impediment to joining the Catholic Church. But since the Church does not recognize civil divorce, one’s entry to the Church may be delayed if one re-married while one’s original spouse is still living. Since the Church has the power to regularize the situation of some divorcees (e.g. by dissolving or declaring null a previous marriage), please highlight all previous marriages (of you and/or your spouse) to the RCIA coordinator as early as possible. The administrative process takes some months to complete. During this time, one is still welcome to begin the RCIA programme.

Monetary cost associated with RCIA

There is no charge for the RCIA programme or the sacraments. However, the parish may ask for contribution to defray the costs for example of the catechism curriculum materials. Should finances be an issue, do speak privately to the RCIA coordinator as the Church will not turn anyone away due to an inability to pay.

Dress Code

Smart casual and decent for the following rites. No colour restriction but please avoid collarless T-shirt.

✔ Rite of Acceptance
✔ Rite of Sending
✔ Rite of Election
✔ 1st Scrutiny of the Elect
✔ 2nd Scrutiny of the Elect
✔ 3rd Scrutiny of the Elect

For the Rite of Initiation:

✔ Male: White shirt and black pants. Necktie is not necessary.
✔ Female: White shirt/blouse and black (below the knee) skirt/dress/pants.

All white is also acceptable.

For more information on our RCIA programme, you may contact either our parish office or RCIA coordinators. You may find the relevant contact details in our parish bulletin.

Church of the Immaculate Conception

9, Jalan Gereja, 80100 Johor Bahru, Johor Darul Takzim, Malaysia.
Open in Google Maps     +607-224 3034 / 224 8490