Prepared under the direction of the Most Reverend Robert Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston by the Office of Catechesis and Christian Initiation in consultation with the Diocesan Board of Catechetical Advisors, Selected RCIA Leaders, and Parishes and Missions of the Diocese of Charleston responding to a diocese-wide survey

Approved for promulgation by His Excellency, the Bishop August 18, 2009

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults
Overview and Guidelines for the Catholic Diocese of Charleston
Prepared in Light of National Guidelines and Feedback from 80 Parish Programs
August, 2009

The Rite of Christian Initiation
There is no better way to describe the RCIA, a familiar process in our parishes, than by quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

§1229: “From the time of the apostles, becoming a Christian has been accomplished by a journey and initiation in several stages. This journey can be covered rapidly or slowly, but certain essential elements will always have to be present: proclamation of the Word, acceptance of the Gospel entailing conversion, profession of faith, Baptism itself, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and admission to Eucharistic communion.”

§1233: “The Second Vatican Council restored for the Latin Church ‘the catechumenate for adults, comprising several distinct steps.’ The rites for these stages are to be found in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA).”

While the initials RCIA actually stand for the liturgical celebrations which mark the steps of the catechumenate, common usage has led to the initials designating the whole process of the catechumenate but also, generally, the journey in faith taken by baptized Christians who seek to become Catholics or baptized Catholics who have never completed their initiation.

Resources for RCIA Leaders

  • Directory for the Applications of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism..
    Vatican City: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith , 1993
  • General Directory for Catechesis. Washington: United States Catholic Conference,1998.
  • Our Hearts Were Burning within Us: A Pastoral Plan for Adult Faith Formation in the United States.
    Washington: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 1998.
  • Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
    Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1988.
  • The Ecumenical Dimension in the Formation of Pastoral Workers.
    Vatican , 1998.
  • Ut Unum Sint
    (On Commitment to Ecumenism), by Pope John Paul II. Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 1995 In addition to these magisterial resources, the following are also recommended:

    • Breaking Open the Lectionary, by Margaret Nutting Ralph.
    • The Cultural World of the Bible, by John Pilch.
    • The RCIA Transforming the Church, by Thomas H. Morris. Paulist Press, revised 1997.
    • Word and Worship, by Mary Birmingham

–Updating team members through deanery and diocesan workshops as well as regional conferences held by such groups as the North American Forum on the Catechumenate or others recognized by our bishop.

Best Practices

Across the diocese, RCIA coordinators have reported that the most effective helps to the process include the following:

  • Hospitality to all inquirers
  • A diverse and knowledgeable team;
  • Persons who have recently completed the RCIA process who are willing to share their stories;
  • Use of varied resources and materials and consideration for diverse styles of learning and interacting;
  • Outreach and advertising by numerous means: announcements, ads, personal approach and invitation, parish website, giving away resources (informational or prayer leaflets);
  • Willingness and readiness to help people address various issues (marital, familial, language, etc.);
  • Genuine personal interest in participants;