The RCIA: Can We Get the Rite Right?

Next Session: Aug 26, 2024

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,
  • Sacramental Celebration, and
  • Mystagogy.

For a Rite that has been in place for over a decade there is still much work to be done on its overall implementation. 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 churches. The course will explore the Rite, using the stages of the Rite as the guide for the course, looking to the various stages of formation and also invite participants to reflect on ways his or her parish implements the Rite.

Please note that this course is for individuals and parish ministers who help with the RCIA. It is not intended for those seeking the completion of the Sacraments of Initiation. The Rite of Christian Initiation must be administered through a parish; there is no way to do the Rite outside of a worshiping parish community. If you are seeking to enter the Church or to complete your sacramental preparation, we encourage you to contact a local parish.

*Note: Participants in this course must have a copy of The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Participants can either purchase the text or borrow a copy for the duration of the course.

Course Content

Unit 1 - Course Introduction

  • A brief history of the catechumenate and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
  • The sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist

Unit 2 - Pre-catechumenate and Catechumenate

  • The first and second stages:
  • What does the Rite say about these stages?

Unit 3 - The Sacramental Celebration of the Rites

  • The third stage
  • How do parishes celebrate the period of Election through the Easter Vigil?

Unit 4 - Mystagogy

  • The fourth stage
  • What is it and why is it important?

Unit 5

  • Study of implementation of the Rite in U.S. dioceses, Journey to the Fullness of Life.
  • What more can we be doing?

Course Format

  • Five weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (200-250 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated Zoom session with students in course.

Required Texts

  • Participants in this course must have a copy of The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Participants can either purchase the text or borrow a copy for the duration of the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read lectures and assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Respond to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled Zoom sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 25 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Mrs. Kelly Culver, M.Div.

Mrs. Kelly Culver, M.Div.

Kelly Culver graduated from Saint Mary's College in Notre Dame, IN in 1996, and from the University of Notre Dame with a Masters of Divinity in 2001. After graduation she worked on an extensive sociological study of the implementation of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in six parishes and co- authored a book based on the research, Real Stories of Christian Initiation: Lessons for and from the RCIA, published by Liturgical Press, 2006. She joined the STEP program in July 2002. Most importantly, she is the mother of three children, Benjamin, Sophia, and Joshua.