Being welcomed into a new family can be a daunting experience. You may only know one or two members really well, and everyone else is a stranger.
However, there are always some go-to figures that can help you relax and feel at home and explain everything you need to know.
When adults wish to join the Catholic Church, they are not alone on their journey. There are often small groups within parishes that walk with them on their journey to initiation.
This process by which a person is welcomed into the Catholic Church is known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This person, known as a catechumen, then undertakes periods of personal and communal formation, which culminates in their reception at the Easter Vigil Mass, whereby they receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Communion.
To strengthen their skills in welcoming these new Catholics, over 50 people from across Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains gathered recently for a full-day RCIA workshop that was organised by the Office for Worship, which serves the Diocese of Parramatta in the area of liturgical formation, coordination and practice.
Participants were led through a series of sessions by guest presenters Nick Wagner and Diana Macalintal from TeamRCIA in the US, who provide online resources about the Rite to parishes.
Nick and Diana kicked off the workshop with a discussion on what they defined as the six principles of RCIA, as well as pillars for forming disciples.
As explained by Nick and Diana, their six principles of the RCIA are:
- That it is a gradual process;
- That it takes place in the community;
- That it focuses on the Paschal Mystery;
- That it is a process of conversion to Christ;
- That it is a journey of adults;
- That it is focused on the person’s individual needs;
Following lunch, participants explored different levels of evangelisation and the period of mystagogy, a time of learning which occurs after their reception at the Easter Vigil, was discussed. There was lively interaction throughout the day.
Annie from St Matthew’s Parish, Windsor, said, “as a new member of our parish RCIA team, I have learnt so much from the day. Both Nick and Diana’s enthusiasm is contagious.”
Mary from St Matthew’s added, “the workshop was very informative – I enjoyed it very much.”
Antoinette from Mary, Queen of the Family Parish, Blacktown explained, “I enjoyed hearing about how we as a parish community and the RCIA team have to hear the individual story of each catechumen – it is not one program fits all. The formation for those wanting to be baptised is the responsibility of the whole parish community – we initiate people into the community and not just a weekly meeting.”
Sr Mary-Louise Walsh, Liturgy Educator for the Office of Worship, said the formation day was “well received.”
“Both Diana’s and Nick’s enthusiasm and excellent presentation skills made the day a great success. They emphasised the essential link between RCIA and evangelisation in parish, which stuck with the participants,” she said.