For 30 years the North American Forum on the Catechumenate provided resources that many involved in RCIA in the UK found to be essential to their ministry, Yet in June 2013 the organisation closed its doors, following a drastic reduction in take-up of its services, and in particular its Institutes.
Now we have the demise of Catechumenate the bi-monthly journal published by LTP*.
As I read through some of this year’s articles I have to ask myself why such a resource is no longer needed to the extent that it makes it unviable to continue to publish. Mary G Fox in the introduction to the July 2014 issue refers to articles in that issue, whose authors have ‘made a profound contribution to the practice, worldwide, of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults’ and how they continue to be of help to those who are now involved in this ministry.
There are articles from Paul Turner (thankfully a frequent and much admired visitor to our shores), Mark Searle, Rita Burns Senseman and Aidan Kavanagh, on the Rite of Election, the Scrutinies, the Penitential rite (Scrutiny) for Children and The Presentations. Given they were published between 1987 and 2010, and all as relevant now as they were when first published, the question has to be asked why is there not a new generation of RCIA catechists eager to feed on such wisdom?
While there are some good examples in the UK of the RCIA process in practice, we hear about them all too little.
- So what formation are catechists and sponsors receiving?
I think of the times that I hear ‘yes, we run an RCIA programme…’ or ‘We do run RCIA but we call it Journey of Faith. No one would come if we called it RCIA.’
- Do you know parishes that still run ‘programmes’, and if so how do you help them to see it as a ‘process’: the rite of initiation is suited to a spiritual journey … that varies according to the many forms of God’s grace…..RCIA 5
- How many parishes still have a ‘closed’ RCIA group, that is hardly, if at all, publicised, but meets with a few invited participants on a weekday evening. What would Pope Francis say!
Then I think of the thriving parishes where RCIA groups meet at different times of the day, helpfully accommodating shift workers and parents of young children; where they baptise at the easter vigil, and receive Christians into Full Communion with the Catholic church at appropriate times throughout the year: when the individual is right and ready. Yes, there are good models, but they became so with dedicated teams and people willing to read and reflect on the rite and to access good resources.
TIP: Have a handy list of resources to give out to catechists and sponsors – but don’t overwhelm them!
- The good news is that Pastoral Liturgy* will contain a section devoted to the Catechumenate. Guess what is in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue… an article on ‘The Benefits of a Year-Round Catechumenate’. Gosh haven’t we been here before – 20 years ago- ?
*Liturgy Training Publications, Chicago.