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What is the RCIA?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the normal way for unbaptized persons and those who have been baptized in another Christian tradition to become a Catholic, through a process of discerning and ritualizing the stages of gradual conversion. The rite of Christian initiation is designed for adults (and children of catechetical age) who, after hearing the mystery of Christ proclaimed, consciously and freely seek the living God and enter the way of faith and conversion as the Holy Spirit opens their hearts. By God’s help they will be strengthened spiritually during their preparation and at the proper time will receive the sacraments fruitfully. (RCIA Introduction 1)

The RCIA is for three groups of people:


  • Those who are not baptized. For the Unbaptized, the RCIA gradually uncovers the story of God’s salvation for all; the mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; and the workings of the Holy Spirit as revealed in the beliefs, sacramental life and spiritual practices of the Catholic Church. The initiation of catechumens is a gradual process that takes place within the community of the faithful and in accordance with the Church’s liturgical year. Together with the catechumens, the faithful reflect upon the value of the paschal mystery, renew their own conversion, and by their example lead the catechumens to obey the Holy Spirit more generously. (#4)


  • Those who were baptized into another Christian denomination and wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. The RCIA includes rites and pastoral practice. (RCIA Part II: sections 4 and 5).


  • Baptized Catholics who were never formed in the Catholic faith and have not completed their initiation; that is, who have received neither of the sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.

How does the RCIA work?


RCIA consists of four periods of formation which are marked by rituals that celebrate what has been completed and call a person into the next phase. There is no specific length of time for each period. The RCIA is a journey that “takes as long as it takes,” according to each individual’s needs and faith journey:


  • The Inquiry or Pre-Catechumenate
  • The Catechumenate
  • The Lenten period of Purification and Enlightenment
  • Mystagogy or a time of deeper understanding of the “mysteries


For a reflection on the “Internal Path” to becoming a Catholic published by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, please click here.

For additional information on RCIA at St. Elizabeth,
please contact the Parish Center at (626) 797-1167.