PA940EE Implementing the Rites of Christian Initiation of Adults

The current Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) was promulgated January 6, 1972 and the use of the Rite was made mandatory in all U.S. Dioceses in September of 1988. The RCIA is a process through which non-baptized and baptized men and women enter the Catholic Church. It includes four distinct stages of formation:

  • Evangelization or Pre-catechumenate
  • Catechumenate
  • Period of Purification and Enlightenment
  • Mystagogy

In 2001, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published the results of a three-year study on the implementation of the Rite, Journey to the Fullness of Life. The results of this comprehensive study make it clear that the RCIA is essential for the rich and healthy life of the Church in the United States. It is also clear from the study that the implementation of the Rite can be improved in many ways and that the Rite must continue to be a major priority in the local parishes.

Course Syllabus

Course Objectives:

  • This course will help deacons explore the RCIA, using the four stages of the RCIA as the guide for the course.
  • By looking at the various stages of formation this course will invite participants to reflect on ways his parish implements the RCIA.
  • While previous experience working with the RCIA is a benefit in the course, deacons new to the process and also those wanting to know more about the RCIA should find value in taking this course and be able to help implement or improve the RCIA process in his parish ministry assignment.

Required Texts

RCIA Study Edition

USCCB Publishing item 7949

ISBN: 978-0-930467-94-4

Pages: 375

Binding Information: Paperback

Pages: 375

Price: $25

Journey to the Fullness of Life

USCCB Product Code: 5-392

ISBN: 978-1-57455-392-5

Pages: 64

Binding Information: Saddle stitched Paperback

Pages: 64

Price: $6.95

Doors to the Sacred by Joseph Martos publsihed by Image Books.

Paperback: 488 pages

Publisher: Liguori; Rev Upd edition (April 18, 2001)

ISBN-10: 0764807188

ISBN-13: 978-0764807183

Price: $16.97

Come and See: Leader Edition: A Lectionary-based Christian Initiation Resource Using Catholic Updates

Franciscan Media

Karen Albertus

ISBN 978-1-61636-601-8

Franciscan Media Item: B36601

Price: $34.99

Recommended Texts

RCIA Ritual Edition

ISBN 978-0-8146-1592-8

Binding Information: Hardcover

Pages: 400

Price: $39.95







Course Introduction

A brief history of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

Read the Introduction and pp. 1-6 of the RCIA Study Guide

Read Doors to the Sacred book pp. 1-160

Develop a list of questions and objectives on what you want to get out of this course

None:  Conference Call this week


The Sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist

Read Doors to the Sacred pp. 161-306

Outline each Chapter on the Sacraments of Initiation



What is a Catechumen?

What is a Candidate for Full Communion?

Who are the Elect?


Assignment: Quiz on Module #1 and #2




The First stage: The Pre-catechumenate

First session: setting up the RCIA room and The Christ Candle

Introducing the RCIA to the inquirers and their companions

Read the Introductory “tab” from Come and See on the Pre-catechumenate





Clergy and Parish support

Portraying an Adult Education Model/Evangelization

Example Presentation: “What is the RCIA?”

Setting up a team of Catechists, Godparents, Sponsors, Companions and Hospitality


Assignment: Develop a Day of Reflection/Workshop for your RCIA Team




Possible resources/programs to help you get started:

Lecture/class based structure programs

Lectionary based structure programs

Educational classes and Dismissals – how they can work together


Assignment: Develop  you own Power Point Presentation on “What is the RCIA”




Recruiting Inquirers: getting information

Possible inquirer issues with the Sacrament of Matrimony

Individual interviews and weekly Conferences

The Rite of Acceptance/Welcoming

Read Doors to the Sacred  pp.397-452

Write a brief explanation of the Annulment procedure that you would give to an inquirer with Marriage issues.



The Second stage: The Catechumenate

Setting up a schedule of quality conferences


Sunday dismissals and the importance of attending Mass

Example presentations: Who is Jesus?”; “What is Sin?”; What is the Church?”; The Person and Social Teachings of the Church

The Introductory “tab” from Come and See on The Catechumenate

Develop a calendar for your  curriculum and dismissal sessions



The third stage: The Period of Purification and Enlightenment

How should parishes celebrate the period of Election through the Easter Vigil?

Rite of Sending/Rite of Election and role of the Bishop

The Scrutinies

The Presentations of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer

: the Introductory “tab” from Come and See on The Purification and Enlightenment

Put together a “ceremonial” for the various rituals that take place in the Period of Purification and Enlightenment



The fourth stage: Mystagogy.

What is it and why is it important?

Ongoing opportunities for adult education and evangelization

Getting involved in the parish

the Introductory “tab” from Come and See on Mystagogy and Discipleship




  Study of implementation of the Rite in U.S. dioceses, Journey to the Fullness of Life.


Quiz on Journey to the Fullness of Life



What more can we be doing?

Getting the “neophytes” involved in ministry and continuing their faith formation


: Develop a plan to get the “neophytes” involved in your parish