It is a couple of weeks since we were in Manchester for the RCIA Network Conference on Faith believed, celebrated, lived and prayed with Fr Paul Turner. For the main part of the Conference Fr Paul took us slowly through paragraph 75 which outlines the content of the Catechumenate. He highlighted the meaning of the text and its implications for our practice. He also made connections with the various adaptations of the Rite for Children and those uncatechised adults. He often stopped for a reality check in the table groups – how did our practice match what was said in the Rite? As if often the case these groups provided as much information or learning as the input with practitioners of varying experience spoke. SOmetimes it can be good enough just to discover that you do things in a similar way to other people or to learn than different circumstances can mean a different approach.
On the last morning we were invited to reflect on what we had heard and considering the four areas write down what we did well and what we wished to do better. The collated reflections are available in a document below. I am sure the full list will be of interest both to those who attended the Conference but also to any practitioner. It is good to be inspired by the thoughts of others and also to be reminded what we could do, but first of all to acknowledge that we do somethings well.
Looking over the list it is interesting and perhaps unsurprising that we do Catechesis well but that for the other areas there is more to be done better. Fr Paul didn’t ‘pul his punches’ and avoid some of the more challenging aspects of the Rite and many of these are reflected in the responses. Though interestingly people here are still not convinced of dismissal. He was very clear about the need to distinguish between catechumens and the baptised. Sometimes it is the practical ideas which catch people’s imagination. He described his practice for a Rite of Sending to the Rite of Election where he asks members of the community to stand to show that they know the catechumen – a sign of support and integration into the community but also a challenge.
One of the things that I was struck by was that the Catechumenate was the time to get into the habits of being Christian. This is the time to discover that the life of witness and social acti0n were part what it means to be a Christian. This is the time to become integrate into the community of the parish. This is the time to develop the pattern of Sunday worship shaping the week. If we leave these things to the period of mystagogy we have left them too late.
It would be good to hear what ideas other people took away – and even to have a progress report on some of the things we could do better.