For us, it’s twenty-one years since the publication of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in English(1988),and some forty-four years since the Vatican II call for the restoration of the catechumenate (Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church, Ad Gentes Dec 1965). At the end of this week there is to be European gathering of representatives involved in the catechumenate (‘Eurocat’), with delegates expected from 22 countries, east to west, north to south. Each delegation is asked to provide a ‘poster’ of statistics from their context, together with a written report, and will have the opportunity to speak about the state of the catechumenate and the challenges faced.
So what are the good things? And the challenges? Although we do not have a ‘desk’ for the catechumenate at national level, as many countries do, the RCIA Network for England and Wales does have membership in most dioceses. Together we build on the good work that many dioceses are doing, and aim to encourage and share resources, both people and materials. From Network conference and study day participants over the years, and from those working in advisory roles, we hear that although many dioceses have identified ‘mission’ as important, this model is not always connected with RCIA. Statistics are available as to the numbers attending the Rite of Election in each diocese, as well as adult baptisms and receptions. Do these provide a full picture of catechumenal activity? What proportion of parishes in each diocese see themselves as initiating communities? How are those already graced through Baptism received into full communion in our parishes? How do we begin to integrate candidates and catechumens into the life of the community from the very start?
At the moment you may be aware that the Network is engaged in producing material that will support formation of parish ‘teams’. There are Network study days this year on the Role of the Assembly, with workshops on Receiving the Baptised and Formation of Teams. Work is also being done in collaboration with the Bishops Conference Department for Christian Life & Worship on Guidelines for Christian Initiation of Children of Catechetical Age.
The Eurocat conference theme is ‘Integration’ looking at what happens when strangers meet, and the psychological aspects of integration of newcomers into existing social systems. Please remember the conference in your prayer – perhaps with echoes of today’s Gospel in mind. There will be much telling of stories of ‘what has happened on the road’ in different lands, and perhaps some ‘agitation and doubts’. But above all, hearing Christ speak ‘It is I’ in all of these.