The Joy of RCIA Labours


Recently I had the pleasure of visiting an ongoing, parish RCIA group which had just taken its summer break and was coming together once more with the expectation of welcoming two brand new enquirers. It’s quite a while since I was directly involved with a ‘live’ parish RCIA group and I had forgotten the sheer joy a good group can generate: the power of its relationships; the adrenalin rush as new people take those first tentative steps of formal enquiry; the exuberance of newly received Catholics; and the wonder at the diversity of gifts active within a community.

After a warm welcome and a gentle round of introductions, the leader for the night invited two new Catholics to share highlights from their own, very recent journey …

And the words just tumbled out, with an evangelising force that I have rarely experienced before. The two new Catholics were very different: but both mesmerising. I watched the reactions of the new enquirers and they were both inspired and affirmed as some of their own questions and hesitancies were named and the strong support of this community was applauded. These two ‘latest arrivals in the vineyard’ witnessed to a radical conversion centred on the Rite of Election and the unfolding story of the Holy Week. The younger of the two, spoke of her fear that next year’s experience of Easter would somehow disappoint and openly rejoiced in the difference this journey and made and was making to her life and the life of her young family. Throughout this testimony, the other parish accompaniers who share responsibility for the group, listened attentively, nodded in recognition and smiled proudly.

On Sunday we were invited to celebrate Home Mission Sunday and to consider our call to evangelise ‘at home’, on our own doorstep and in our own communities. The gospel parable of the labourers in the vineyard reveals a God who sees things differently to us: who is not concerned with the economics of labour, or market forces; but with the scandal of gifts and talents not being used. A God who has not time for idleness and who rewards all efforts with unbounded generosity.

My visit to this lovely, local group reminded me of the importance of the ministry of the newly received especially in the context of peer evangelisation. It prompted me to give thanks for the work of so many parish RCIA groups up and down our countries and for the contribution they make to the mission of the church ‘at home’.


“The eyes of faith behold a wonderful scene: that of a countless number of lay people, both women and men, busy at work in their daily life and activity, oftentimes far from view and quite unacclaimed by the world, unknown to the world’s great personages but nonetheless looked upon in love by the Father, untiring labourers who work in the Lord’s vineyard. Confident and steadfast through the power of God’s grace, these are the humble yet great builders of the Kingdom of God in history.”