Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults - RCIA
Does the parish have a RCIA program?
Yes. We have an excellent Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults program here at Saint Mary Catholic Church, Kingman, AZ.
Is the RCIA program Catholic or Christian?
This is a very good question. We Roman Catholics understand that to be fully Christian is to be fully Roman Catholic. Unfortunately, today there are many Catholics and non-Catholics who define Catholic and Christian as meaning two separate things. We might hear, for example, someone saying I'm a Christian, but not a Catholic. Or, when someone says he is a Catholic, the other person might conclude wrongly that he therefore is not Christian. Thus, we have a lot of confusion swimming around in our minds. We keep in mind that Christian means one who follows the Christ. The Christ or Messiah, of course, is Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in order to become man and was born of the Virgin Mary. The Roman Catholic would define himself as a Christian, as he strives to follow the Christ and His Gospel. We would hope that a Catholic would strive to be the Christian of Christians. Often, however, we suffer the effects of Original Sin both within the Roman Catholic Church and outside it. Many reject the Roman Catholic Church because they focus only on the human nature (the fallen nature of man) instead of on the divine nature (the Divine Nature of Christ) of the Catholic Church.
When Pope John Paul II first came to the United States, he spoke to a mixed assembly of priests, religious men and women, seminarians, and laity at the National Catholic Shrine in Washington, D.C. There he urged us not to be ashamed of the name Catholic, because to be Catholic is definitely being a Christian in the fullest sense of the word.
Who may participate in the RCIA?
The RCIA is reserved really for the unbaptized adults who think they might want to become Roman Catholic. Often, we see some RCIA programs mixing baptized adults, who are not yet Catholic, with the unbaptized. In truth, however, these two programs should be separated.
When does one finish the RCIA program?
The Catholic Directory of the RCIA envisions that the formation of faith and the formation of being a Roman Catholic as being a process. It envisions that the RCIA program not follow the academic year, but rather that it continues to have classes every week throughout one or two or three years. Faith is more than just believing in Jesus as the Christ. Faith is a theological virtue, which means that it is a divine gift of God the Holy Spirit, along with the other two theological virtues, which are Hope and Charity. We would agree that Faith takes time to mature. For some individuals, their Faith formation is already developed to some extent, and therefore their formation in the RCIA might be briefer. For others, especially those unbaptized adults, who usually have had no religious formation or contact with the Catholic Faith, their program might last more than two years. Great discernment is needed here, of course. For that reason, interested unbaptized adults in the Roman Catholic Faith are helped with the aid of a sponsor, one who is already a full member of the Roman Catholic Faith.
What is the roll of a sponsor?
The sponsor volunteers to help a candidate seeking entrance into the Roman Catholic Church. There is a book called Becoming Catholic for Dummies. And another one called, How to Survive Living with a Catholic. Both these books intend to help one understand all that Catholics believe, and to present the meaning of the Catholic Church's rituals, symbols, and sacraments.
The roll of the sponsor, then, is to answer questions and doubts of the candidate. He/she also accompanies the candidate to the RCIA classes, to Sunday Mass, and other parish devotions, such as the praying of the Rosary, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and novenas. When the candidate is deemed ready, and willing, to be a Roman Catholic, the sponsor becomes the needed godparent. The godparent is spiritually adopting this adult candidate as his own spiritual and faith-filled son or daughter. The Roman Catholic Church takes the roll of the sponsor very seriously. The sponsor/godparent, needless to say, should be practicing the Catholic Faith constantly, and have already become a full Catholic in the Church by having been baptized in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, by having been confirmed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and of having made his/her First Holy Communion. Such a godparent maintains him/herself in the state of sanctifying grace by frequenting the repeatable sacraments of Reconciliation (confession of sins to a priest) and Holy Communion.
How does one enroll in the RCIA?
Please call the parish staff during office hours.
Our two wonderful teachers of RCIA, John and Mimi Timko have presented and developed a tremendous program for RCIA. Unfortunately, after this year's celebration of the Paschal Feast of the Lord's Resurrection, they will be retiring from this parish apostolate. Otherwise, we would refer you directly to them.
What if I was married in another Christian church, and now want to become Roman Catholic?
The Roman Catholic Church considers all marriages between two baptized persons, one male and the other female, as being a sacrament. Therefore, if the spouse is cooperative, there should be no impediments to beginning the RCIA. Sometimes we find that adults who were baptized and raised as Catholics left the Church, and married a non-Catholic or a non-baptized person. Or, that one divorced from a valid Catholic sacramental marriage, and then remarried outside the Catholic Church. These cases will need great discernment. We first of all have to regularize or make normal any marriage between two Christians of any denomination. This process involves testimonies of 4 reliable witnesses and a judgment by the Diocesan Tribunal, which handles marriage preparation, annulments of marriage, and dispensations from Catholic form. When there is a serious question about the validity of one's marriage, then this person would postpone being a candidate in the RCIA program, and instead, be given general courses on the Catholic Faith until one's marriage is blessed in some way by the Roman Catholic Church.