RCIA, or Journey into Faith as we now call it in our parish, seems very different this year to last.
As one of the clergy team here in Crawley and having the responsibility for the RCIA process I attended Fr Paul Turner’s conference at Roehampton last summer.
Last Easter we Received into the Church, Baptised and Confirmed some 12 adults. I have to say I was confused by ritual which seemed to be primarily for unbaptised adults – we were using the American RCIA Study Edition which made some reference to baptised adults being received or confirmed but not much. The Rite of Election we could see was primarily for the unbaptised, although the others had some part. The Scrutinies seemed inappropriate for those already baptised. Anyway we muddled through and it was a great celebration. I guess half of the adults no longer to come to church and this upset me.
Imagine my excitement as Fr Paul so clearly unseparated for us the three strands of our process and helped us see a way forward that faithfully reflected the original intention of RCIA for unbaptised adults and also helped us prepare the already baptised for Reception/Confirmation.
Our approach is now to be:
- The group is now to be called Journey Into Faith (incorporating RCIA for unbaptised). It is an ongoing process and not designed to get everyone through by next Easter!;
- Unbaptised are to be ‘Accepted’ into the Catechumenate when ready with a view to preparing for baptism at an undefined future Easter when they are ready;
- Existing baptised Catholics who have asked for adult Confirmation will continue in the process until ready when they will receive the Sacrament at a time other than Easter;
- Similarly, those Baptised into another Christian tradition will be Received when they are ready but not at Easter.
All three strands now meet together weekly/fortnightly (we have an evening group and a day group for mums with young children who can’t easily get out in the evening).
Once a month we have a catechetical talk which introduces or updates members to the essentials of our faith. It is a two year process which we have opened up as an ‘Adult Education Programme’ to all the parish.
At our intervening evening/daytime meetings we take the Sunday gospel and ‘lectio’ it, allowing essentials of our faith to be discussed as well as a time for questions and prayer.
Alongside this, I try to see the members individually on a monthly basis. One elderly lady who had been coming to our church for years and had been a regular attender at her Anglican church before, was Received after only two meetings.
With joy, we accepted three people into the Catechumenate in January and hope that all three will proceed to Election and Baptism at Easter this year.
We are hoping some others will be Confirmed or Received at Pentecost.
Others will continue till they are ready.
Crawley, so close to Gatwick, has many people working on shifts which play havoc with their regular attendance at meetings. We are relaxed about this and have asked all members to commit to at least two years attendance of the catechetical process which will suffice for the ‘mystagogia’ period for the newly baptised and will help to integrate them into the parish community.