The RCIA

Can We Get the Rite Right?

Course Description

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. While previous experience working with the RCIA is a benefit in the courses, individuals new to the process and also those wanting to know more about the RCIA should take this course.

*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

  1. Course Introduction
  2. A brief history of the catechumenate and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.
  3. The sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist

Unit 2

  1. The first and second stages: Pre-catechumenate and Catechumenate
  2. What does the Rite say about these stages?

Unit 3

  1. The third stage: The Sacramental Celebration of the Rites.
  2. How do parishes celebrate the period of Election through the Easter Vigil?

Unit 4

  1. The fourth stage: Mystagogy.
  2. What is it and why is it important?

Unit 5

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

Course Format

  • Five weeks in duration, which includes orientation to online learning.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Short weekly written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Weekly facilitator-moderated chat 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

  • Weekly reading of lecture text.
  • Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
  • Weekly written assignment (150-200 words.)
  • Course evaluation.

Time Expectations

3 to 5 hours a week (time varies from student to student 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.

Meet the Developer

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.