The Rite speaks of a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful (RCIA 4) whereby the elect enter into full communion with the Church through the sacraments of initiation. Their journey and ours is, among other things, a journey into community.
I have been struck by this process of entering into community in recent days in my own parish as the human bonds of connection and familiarity have grown over the past few months. At the rites celebrated within the liturgy the congregation have seen and warmed to the new members as they have been presented to the community. As the day of their reception comes ever closer the elect have grown closer to us and to each other and real sense of community has begun to emerge.
Already my mind is starting to turn to Eastertide and how we can nurture the new life that they will receive at Easter. Although we do continue to meet during the period of Mystagogia for a few weeks previous experience has shown that we need to do more to support our new sisters and brothers in community.
In our parish we have been developing, in a gradual way, small parish communities as a way to build community and encourage mission within the parish. This has been developing for about three years. What we plan to do this year is to invite the newly initiated members to join one of our parish small community groups. We hope that this will provide an ongoing source of support so that they can continue to be integrated into the life of the parish and journey ever more deeply into community.
Perhaps there are other ways that have been developed and tried elsewhere to sustain the newly initiated? What has worked well in your parish? How can we best provide ongoing support for those that receive the new life of Christ at Easter?