The Association for Catechumenal Ministry

Fostering the Full Implementation of the Order of Christian Initiation

Questions and Answers

why must catechesis be organic?
Because mother Church tells us so.
"The various elements of the Christian faith should be presented in a well structured way and in harmony with each other by means of an organic vision that respect the hierarchy of truths." GDC #241
Can the local ordinary refuse the Rite of Acceptance to anyone who needs an annulment until such time that the marriage has been granted?


Our team is trying to plan a mini retreat for our group that is just finishing up an 8 week inquiry period before the rite of acceptance/welcome. Do you have any ideas on what should be covered on such a retreat?

The best source material is the Rite itself.

Always teach to and from the Rites. Study the theme of a given Rite and note the doctrine present in the prayers and responses. The Church prays what she believes. Make sure that your teaching clarifies what participants will hear and how they will be asked to respond in the encounters with Christ and his Church in the liturgy. This is teaching to the Rites. As well, draw from the grace they received from each Rite by referring to those truths as they are appropriate in the weeks and months afterwards. This is teaching from the Rites. All of the Rites draw their power from the sacraments of initiation, and from the ordination of the priests who administer them. Each instruction ought to reflect this reality. Grace is more and more richly available after each one of the Rites, until it is poured out in abundance at the Easter Vigil!

Do your publications have an Impriatur? on each RCIA workibook


Is it ok for both candidates and catechumens to be dismissed at mass

Yes, although the ritual book discusses celebrations of

the Word specifically only in relation to catechumens,

candidates may, and should, take part in celebrations

both especially for catechumens and those of the

entire assembly, especially Sunday Mass (see RCIA


who is included in the penitential rite?

The candidates do not participate in the Scrutinies

for the elect. However, a Penitential Rite (Scrutiny)

may be celebrated on the Second Sunday of Lent or

on a Lenten weekday for those candidates who will

complete their Christian initiation or who will be

received into full communion with the Church  (for Baptized

Candidates Only), see RCIA 462. 

At Sunday Mass after the readings and homily the Catechumens are dismissed and join Catholic team members to Breaking Open the Word’ the problem is the Catholic team miss The Eucharisitic Prayer and Communion, are they excused from attending another Mass?

They are not excused from attending Mass. In my parish the team members take turns leading the dismissal.

When it's your turn to participate in the Sunday dismissal attend the Saturday evening Mass.

Why can't an RCIA candidate choose his or her parent as a sponsor?

Short answer: because the Church says so...CCL 874.5

Reasonable answer: the role of godparent is to assist the parents in raising the children in the faith. A parent can not be a godparent because they already have a greater role. You can not assist yourself.

If one is baptized a Catholic does one need to be confimed in the Catholic Church to be married in a Catholic Church?

Catholics who have not yet received the sacrament of confirmation are to receive it before being admitted to marriage, if this can be done without grave inconvenience. (CIC 1065)

I'm trying to write a 30 sec to 1 min. RCIA ad to place on our local Catholic Radio station. I'm hoping that you may have a generic one I can work from.

Do you ever ask yourself…

What am I looking for in life?

What is the meaning of my life?

How can I be a better person?

What can I do about the loneliness I feel?

How can I come to know God’s love?

How can I know the right path God has in store for me?

If you are asking these questions, or questions like them, the Catholic way of life awaits you. For centuries,

people have turned to the Church to find the answers to the deepest and hardest questions of everyday life.

Are you interested in finding out more about how to become a Catholic?

Sessions are always held on [day] at [time].

This first session is [date] in [location] at [parish name and address]. Feel free to come any [day].

Please give us a call if you have questions, would like further information, or need directions, at [number]

or email at [email address]. Or check out our church’s website: [web address]

What role should sponsors play in the weekly gatherings? Furthermore, should they participate in the small group as well as the catechumens? Or should they just listen? Lastly, what kind of training should I offer sponsors/Godparents?

 The RCIA RITUAL BOOK states that “it is a very ancient custom of the Church that adults are not admitted to Baptism without godparents, members of

the Christian community who will assist the candidate at least in the final preparation for Baptism and after Baptism will help them

persevere in the faith and in their lives as Christians” (GI 8). Godparents and sponsors play a crucial pastoral role in the Christian

initiation process. They are called upon throughout the Christian initiation process to give public testimony to the progress and readiness

of participants for the major RCIA liturgies, and serve as a bridge and connection between participants and the parish. They must be able to enter into

a relationship with a single person, and be willing to give considerable prayer, time, and energy to serve as a mentor, role model, and friend.


Go here for more information:

Hello, Where can I have a copy of RCIA 247 which is mentioned in "Catechesis in Mystagogy" PDF?

RCIA 247 is referring to paragraph #247 in the RCIA Ritual Book.

I am coordinator of the RCIA in our small parish, ad have had three new members initiated at Easter. We have a final night on 'Mystagogy' and I would like to know what is the best procedure to encourage new members & to follow the truths of the Church?

For a detailed expaination of Mystogogy and the Neophyte Year read paragraphs 244-251 from the RCIA Ritual Book. It is important to keep in touch with the neophytes during their first year. A Bible study for the neophytes is a good way to keep in touch as well as making sure they take advantage of and are participating in the life of the parish.

Are the Presentations of the Creed and the Lord's Prayer mandatory rites or optional? How many they be celebrated following the First and Third Scrutihies?

Unless it is stated in the Ritual Book that these rites are optional, (which it does not), we are expected to do  them.

The minor Rites are too often viewed as “just something extra.” This view underestimates the power of the Church’s liturgy.
Catechism explains that it is in the liturgy that Christ works most powerfully to transform those who participate in it (see CCC 1074; see NDC 33). Therefore, all of the minor Rites are significant and powerful liturgical moments. Participation in these liturgies is an essential element to the catechumens’ and candidates’ growing relationship with God, and they are privileged places for participants to encounter Christ. They do so as they hear the Scriptures that are proclaimed, through the prayers and liturgical actions that take place, and through the witness of other members of the Body of Christ who are present. The actual graces made available through the minor Rites strengthen and nourish participants, and help to deepen their conversion to the Lord. These graces are rich liturgical fare that will trengthen and feed participants, bringing them great growth and development in the Spirit and in their conversion to Christ. This liturgical food is extremely significant for them. To omit the minor Rites is to deprive them of graces which can sustain them on their journey to the sacraments. 


do people baptized in the new apostolic church need to be baptized again?

It appears, after reviewing their web site, that the New Apostolic Church Baptism is valid.

However, the decision on validity is made by your Bishop.

Start with your pastor and check with the appropriate episcopal authority on this matter.

On the 1st Sunday of Advent my plan was to do the Rite of Acceptance for 4 siblings who have never been baptized. In the meantime, the liturgical committee and pastor want to also celebrate the profession of faith of an adult Christian. Can that work?

Can this work? Yes. Is this recommended? No.

The mixing of rites during a liturgy is not a best practice especially mixing children with adults.

I would ask the Pastor to do them on different days but bow to his decision.

Can an inquirer choose her mother as a sponsor or do we as the RCIA team asign a sponsor


They are persons, other than the parents of the adults seeking Baptism, who are chosen by those adults themselves (see CIC 874 §1, §5). Each candidate may have either a godmother or a godfather or both (see CIC 873).
The ritual book uses the term “godparent” in two different ways. First, catechumens and baptized candidates are to choose one or two godparents after the Rite of Welcoming (see RCIA 11, 80, 404). Second, godparents support only unbaptized catechumens from the time they are chosen by the catechumens, and stand up for them beginning at the Rite of Sending, and then at the Rite of Election, at the Scrutinies, and at the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (see RCIA 10-11). The godparents chosen by baptized candidates, however, are not mentioned again in the ritual book; instead, the candidates
appear to continue to have sponsors. These sponsors are, in fact, their godparents; the reason for the confusing switch in terminology in the ritual book is explained below.
The ritual book uses the term “sponsor” in two ways as well. First, sponsors are individuals who support both unbaptized or baptized inquirers during the initial stages of Christian initiation, and stand up for both unbaptized and baptized inquirers at the Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming (see RCIA10, 404; note that the latter references RCIA 10). Second, sponsors support and stand up for only baptized candidates beginning at the Rite of Sending, and then at the Rite of the Call to Continuing Conversion, at the Penitential Rite, and at the celebration of the sacrament of Confirmation. What is the purpose of this confusing use of terms?
The answer comes from a very careful reading of the relevant provisions in the ritual book,and is provided here in the order of the stages of the catechumenal process:
The ritual book does not specify how sponsors are chosen during the precatechumenate. Therefore, the choice of sponsors for both unbaptized and baptized inquirers is one of the tasks of the RCIA leader.
The ritual book states that godparents are chosen by the catechumens and candidates themselves after the Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming, who are to have the approval of “the priest” (that is, the pastor) (see RCIA 11, 80, 404).
Unbaptized catechumens may choose as their godparents persons other than their sponsors (see RCIA 10), but this is not mandatory. In many if not most cases, a bond has formed between catechumens and the sponsors who had been appointed to them by the leader during the precatechumenate that prompts them to choose their sponsors as their godparents. If the catechumen expresses a desire to choose another person as his or her godparent, and knows few Catholics, the leader must be able to provide the catechumen with the names of one or more other suitable persons from the parish. If the sponsor is not chosen as godparent, the godparent replaces the sponsor as soon as he or she is chosen. Thus, sponsors not chosen as godparents do not stand up for newly-baptized Catholics as they are confirmed; that is the responsibilityandprivilegeofgodparents.
Since the godparents chosen by the baptized candidates are never mentioned in the Rites, it must be understood that these godparents are the sponsors who are named in RCIA 404,and that they are not necessarily the sponsorsoriginallychosenforthecandidatesbythe leader. As with unbaptized catechumens, the ritual book does not prohibit candidates from choosing
the sponsors appointed to them during the precatechumenate as their godparents,and it is likely that, most of the time, the bond that has formed between candidates and their sponsors will prompt candidates to choose their sponsors as their godparents.
However, the ritual book also allows baptized candidates to choose for their godparents the same individuals who had been their godparents at Baptism “provided they are truly capable of carrying out the responsibilities of godparents” (RCIA 404). Many of the candidates baptized in ecclesial communions other than the Catholic Church either had no godparents or have godparents that cannot meet the Church’s canonical requirements for godparents (see the next section for these requirements). Some of those candidates who entered the Christian initiation process as uncatechized Catholics may discover that their Baptismal godparents no longer meet the canonical requirements; for example, their godparents may no longer be practicing Catholics. In either of these cases, candidates must choose different individuals as godparents. This requirement ensures that candidates will choose godparents who
are “truly capable of carrying out the responsibilities of godparents” (RCIA 404). As with catechu- mens, if the original sponsor is not chosen to be the godparent, the leader must be able to suggest other suitable persons.
By these provisions, the ritual book does three things: 
The Church accepts the common use of “godparent” only for those to be baptized and “sponsor” for those who will be confirmed but not baptized (with the minor “glitch” of using “godparent” when the new-baptized are confirmed, necessary to en- sure that the same individuals stand up for them at both Baptism and Confirmation).
It insures that both catechumens and candidates may choose the persons who will accompany them for the remainder of the Christian initiation process, creating a reciprocity in the bond between individuals that is pastorally appropriate for adults.
It insures that candidates sponsors are, like catechumens’ godparents, required to meet the canonical requirements for godparents by naming their sponsors “godparents” in RCIA 404.
Thus,while the ritual book’s substitution of “sponsor” for “godparent” in the text for the Rites for
candidates from the Rite of Sending might seem to be an error, the reason for the apparent “disappearance” of godparents balances English-language use of the terms “godparent” and “sponsor” while ensuring that the sponsors of baptized candidates meet the canonical requirements for godparents. In this Manual, the distinction of terminology between godparents and sponsors is maintained from the period of the catechumenate forward, but it should be understood that sponsors of baptized candidates after the Rite of Welcoming are, canonically, the godparents chosen as permitted in RCIA 404.
what five challenges in rcia implentation as told by USCCB

The USCCB identified five problem areas within the three aspects of the RCIA process.

Liturgical:    Not doing the Rites and/or doing them poorly

Catechetical:  Not presenting a systematic, organic and complete catechesis

Pastoral:  Lack of involvement of the clergy.

               Lack of team, community, communio.

               Lack of discernment. Are they ready?

Hi, my question is are all the books and manuals updated with the 3rd Edition of the Roman Missal

They are not at this time. However, the new Roman Missal's affect on our books is minimal.

what is a good topic for the first RCIA session? I am the new director and missed the first session last year.

I would not plan a topic for the first RCIA session. This is a "break the ice" session. We typically have the team introduce themselves and have the candidates do the same. We ask why they are with us today. I do a brief review of the process. We hand out Bibles and Catechisms with a brief review of each. I usually close with a definition of Catholicism and explanation of the sign of the Cross.

Where can I find a copy of "the National Statutes for the Catechumenate" approved by the USCCB in November 1986

The National Statutes can be found in Appendix III of the RCIA Ritual Book, page 363.


Since the RCIA is primarily a Liturgical process, it would follow the colors of the liturgical year.

What is the correct procedure for bringing a baptized Catholic, now catechized into full reception of the sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation at the Sunday Liturgy?

This is covered in the RCIA Ritual Book #400-410.

Can someone please comment on "Adaptions By the Bishops Re: Roman Ritual 33.7 (pg 9 and 11). At the present time we annoint our Elect with OC before their baptism at the Vigil. Is this correct?

The RCIA Ritual 33.7 is clear on the use of the Oil of Catechumens.

the National Statutes #16 is succinct,

"The rite of anointing with the oil of catechumens is to be omitted in the Baptism of adults at the Easter vigil."

Is it possible to have a sponsor who is not able to attend RCIA sessions with you?


The ritual book describes sponsors of unbaptized
inquirers as “persons who have known and assisted the
candidates [for admission to the catechumenate] and
stand as witnesses to the candidates’ moral character,
faith, and intention” (RCIA 10). The ritual book does
not specify the responsibilities of sponsors of baptized
inquirers, so it is reasonable to assume that they are the
same. This means that the leader must appoint spon-
sors for inquirers fairly early in the precatechumenate,
so that sponsors will be able to stand up for inquirers at
the Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming.

Sponsors should begin attending the weekly
catechetical sessions as soon as they are appointed.
This accomplishes several things: first, sponsors and
inquirers have a natural starting point for conversations
during the time they are getting acquainted; second,
sponsors know what the inquirers are being taught,
and can help reinforce and extend the teaching in one-
on-one encounters; and third, by hearing the cateche-
sis, sponsors themselves gain further formation in their
faith and can deepen their own conversion to Christ. 


Course Topics for Mystagogy


During this period, the deepest meaning of dis-
cipleship must be examined, including the respon-
sibilities to witness and to bring the light of the
Gospel to every corner of the world. the Church
has designed the Year A lectionary readings for
the Sundays and the Solemnity of the Ascension
to form the basis for the teaching during this peri-
od (see RCIA 247). Below is a summary of some
of the Mystagogical themes present in the read-
ings for Year A:

• Second Sunday of Easter — Sacrament of
Penance – Apostolicity

Acts 2:42-47; Ps 118; 1 Pt 1:3-9; Jn 20:19-31

• Third Sunday of Easter — Emmaus Event –
Paradigm for the Mass

Acts 2:14, 22-33; Ps 16; 1 Pt 1:17-21; lk 24:13-35

• Fourth Sunday of Easter — The Church as
the Sheepfold – Relationship with Jesus

Acts 2:14a, 36-41; Ps 23; 1 Pt 2:20b-25; Jn 10:1-10

• Fifth Sunday of Easter — Heaven – Relation-
ship with the Father through Jesus

Acts 6:1-7; Ps 33; 1 Pt 2:4-9; Jn 14:1-12

• S ixth Sunday of Easter — Relationship with the
Spirit through Jesus – “do whatever he tells you”

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Ps 66; 1 Pt 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-20

• Ascension The Great Commission – Evange-
lism/Witness – Necessity of Baptism

Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47; eph 1:17-23; Mt 28:16-20

• S eventh Sunday of Easter — Prayer for Unity
and Glorification of the Church

Acts 1:12-14; Ps 27; 1 Pt 4:13-16; Jn 17:1-11a
It is assumed that many of the truths discussed
in this period will have been presented earlier in

the RCIA process. the catechesis here thus seeks
to deepen what has been offered in prior months.

The work of this period is to more profoundly chal-
lenge and encourage the neophytes to become true
disciples of Jesus. 


My coordinator wants to call both the catechumen and candidates neophytes. Aren't Neophytes just the catechumen? Any suggestions /

The term Neophyte applies to all new Catholics until the following Easter.

We have adults going through RCIA who have young children they want to also join the Church. I believe that any aged children can and should be baptized, but I do not think children under the age of seven years should be able to receive other sacraments.

The RCIA coordinator and or Pastor are well aware of the needs of the young children. They will advise the candidates (parents) about the reception of sacraments for their children.

My protestant friend want to become a Roman Catholic. What is the full form of RCIA

The paths are different for Baptized vs non Baptized individuals. Take your friend to your Church and introduce them to the RCIA leader and/or Pastor. They will determine what is necessary for your friend to come into full communion with the Church.

Our catechumen was unable to attend the Rite of Election and we have not done anything with the signing of the book. First Scrutiny is a week from this coming Sunday. Can we combine these? Can scrutinies be combined?

Do the book signing this Sunday and the 1st Scutiny on schedule. It is not a good idea to combine the scrutinies.

Do you have a catalog of your books? I want to share your resources with some friends who don't use the internet

Liturgical Training Publications distributes all of our books. They produce a catalog. You can contact them about a catalog and any printed material they have concerning our publications.


Peace! This question actually is regarding the resource material, the Leaders Manual, is there a possibility to purchase only the CD? Because I actually purchased the whole thing book and CD but accidentally crashed the CD. Thanks. God bless

Liturgical Training Publications distributes all of our books. You can get in touch with them concerning your inquiry.

Here is the link to their web site;

Should baptized Catholics who never received First Communion participate in the Rite of Welcome, Sending, Election and the Penitential Rite?

Yes. Read in the RCIA Ritual Book #s 400-472.

I would like to see and study the actual rite that the bishop does.

All the Rites are in the RCIA Ritual Book.

I would like to see and study the actual rite that the bishop does.

RCIA Ritual Book paragraphs 118-137.

what is required of the candidate before the rite of acceptance

Go to the RCIA Ritual Book #s 41-47 "Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens"

May we receive an Inquirer into the Catechumenate during Lent? We have 4 other Candidates/Catechumens who will be receiving thew Easter Sacraments, but our Inquirer is eager to start.

The Precatechumenate is a necessary part of the RCIA process. please read #7 in the RCIA Ritual Book. Inquirers coming throughout the year does pose a challenge to the RCIA team. Please go here for help on how to deal with this issue.

Has anyone kept a count of how many people have completed U.S. RCIA over the years? Do we know if the numbers have risen or fallen? Etc.

The USCCB keeps track of this data. go here:

Where can we get an updated copy of the Nicene Creed suitable for framing that we can give to the participants after we do the Presentation of the Creed? I've heard they exist but I can't seem to find one. thank you for any help!

A simple google search will turn up many options for this item. 

I was married previously, and am now going through RCIA. What documentation, if any, do I need in order to continue the RCIA process?

All questions concerning your marriage will be answered by your Pastor and RCIA leader.

Is it feasible to introduce Lectio Divina to a very diverse group of catechumens and candidates? For example, as a prelude to discussing Eucharist, could one select a Scripture passage to pray using Lectio Divina? What would be an appopriate Scripture?

It is not only feasible but also desirable to introduce Lectio to your catechumens and candidates. Teaching on prayer should occur throughout the RCIA process starting with the more simple prayers familiar to all Christians and gradually moving to the more Catholic forms of prayer. The Catechism states (1177) that the Liturgy of the Hours is a preparation for silent prayer. Therefore, I like to slowly introduce the Liturgy of the Hours before Lectio. There are many Scriptures that can be used for reflection on the Eucharist. Here are a few; Gen 14:18-20, Ex 16:2-16, John 6:1-14, John 6:48-58, Luke 22:14-20 and 1 Cor 11:23-29.  

I am disabled and wouldn't be able to attend rcia classes or mass for that matter. i've been studying about Catholicism and praying the Rosary for approx. 6 mos. Would the church tell me too bad, so sad?

The RCIA Ritual is a very adaptive process. Call a Catholic Parish close to you and explain your situation. I am sure they will be able to help you.

I have two candidates that are certainly ready to be received - the pastor won't let them come in before Easter, because he views bringing in candidates not at east as a special circumstance! Is there any recourse? They are dying to receive the eucharist!

Have your Pastor review, in the Ritual Book, "Reception of Baptised Christians into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church", paragraphs 473-504 and Appendix III, "National Statutes for the Catechumenate",  paragraphs 30-37. Paragraph #33 deals with your concern directly.

When do I offer the Rite of Welcome? When do I offer the Rite of Acceptance? And where are these directives in the RCIA book?


The Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming should
be celebrated more than once during the year. For
catechumens, the ritual book specifies that two, or
three if necessary, dates each year should be “fixed as
the usual times for carrying out this Rite [that is, the
Rite of Acceptance]” (RCIA 18.3; see also RCIA

44). For candidates, the ritual book does not state
a required number of times each year for the Rite
of Welcoming, noting however that the “specified
days” should be “suited to local conditions” (RCIA

414). The RCIA leader, in consultation with the
pastor and other parish clergy involved in RCIA,
must establish these days. The Rites are optionally
celebrated within a special Liturgy of theWord (see

RCIA 61-63, 425-427, 522-524) or within a Mass
(see RCIA 68, 432, 528). Although the Mass need
not be a Sunday Mass, it is desirable for parishioners

“to be present whenever possible [taking] an active
part in the responses, prayers, singing, and acclama-
tions” (RCIA 9.2), and the assembly is most reliably
present at a Sunday Mass (or a SaturdayVigil Mass).
The two or more opportunities each year for going
through this Rite ensure that each inquirer partici-
pates in the Rite only when he or she is ready for the
commitment the Rite signifies. 


If a participant states that their mother told them she baptized her in the bathtub when she was an infant using water and the Trinitarian formula is that a valid baptism? Are they a Catechumen or a Candidate?

This question is best answered by your Pastor. Canon 841 states that it is for the Church alone to approve or define those things which are required for validity. 

I am starting a lectionary based RCIA process this year. Do you have across reference that ties doctrinal topics to the sunday readings for allthree cycles? Thank you. Cherie Smith, 803-788-3252 x 21 or

Go here for our position on a Lectionary Based RCIA process;

should catechumens and candidates be given the catechism?


I just began RCIA and was reading through your Q&A which now worries me. I am currently married to a catholic, I was baptized in the Methodist church. This is my third marriage, do I annulle my previous marriages?
The best thing you can do is inform your RCIA leaders about your
marital status. They, along with the Pastor, will know how to proceed.
Do you offer the Rites in Spanish?
Please can you give a simple explanation of 'justification' in relation to the Paschal Mystery, that participants will be able to understand.


Preparation — Liturgy of the Word

If beginning with a hymn or song, see previous page for suggestions

First Reading: Nm 21:4-9

Response: Ps 26

Gospel: Jn 3:1-21


Proclamation:  Justification frees us from sin, for the glory of God and to give us the hope of receiving God’s own life.  Once justified, we can share in Jesus’ merit, grow in God’s love, and attain Heaven.



Understanding the Gospel:  blueprint for justification and sanctification (see Rom 6:3-23)

God desires all to be saved (see 1 Tm 2:3-6)

In Sacred Scripture, the Father has told us how we are to be saved and become his adopted children

The grace of the Holy Spirit, first given in Baptism, forgives our sins, gives us God’s righteousness and justice, and gives us his own life

Faith is necessary, and faith itself is a gift of God, unmerited by us

The graces of faith and justification flow only from the merits gained by Jesus’ Paschal mystery

But faith without works is barren, incomplete, and dead (see Jas 2:18-26)

Salvation depends upon not only our justification but also on our cooperation with God’s grace

God has promised to reward our good works, which gain their merit from Jesus’ merits (see 2 Tm 4:7-8; Rv 2:23)

Justification:  restoration of sinners to friendship with God (see Rom 3:21-26)

Justification is the greatest work of God’s love, offering to us life in the family of the Trinity

Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and our freedom; no one can be saved against his or her own will

Justification respects our freedom to choose or reject God

Justification, which is essential for salvation, can be lost through sin

Through the sacrament of Reconciliation, God in his great mercy will forgive even serious sin and restore our justification

Justification demands faith, but to retain it we must do God’s works

Merit:  the promise of reward for obedience to God’s commandments (see Col 3:23-25)

Our salvation comes through no merit of ours, but is the free gift of God

God freely associates us with his work of grace; he calls us to cooperate with him (see Lk 10:2)

Jesus’ saving actions in his Paschal mystery are the only source of our merit

In justification, our sanctification by the Holy Spirit is begun

We must hear and obey all that Jesus commands to gain everlasting life (see Jn 5:28-29; Mt 19:16-17)

Jesus’ teachings tell us what we must do; with God’s grace, we can keep his commandments

Jesus’ teachings tell us how to persevere in holiness by being faithful members of his Body, the Church, by using the sacraments he entrusted to the Church, and by following her teaching


Application — Suggested Questions for Discussion:

1. What does the doctrine of justification teach us about how to read Scripture as one, single book?

2. Why is simply acknowledging Jesus as our Lord and Savior not enough for salvation?

3. How do my good works fit into the idea that grace is a free gift of God?

4. What are ways to persevere at what God has begun in me?


Celebration — Suggestions for Closing Prayer:

1. Pray for the gift of God’s grace of faith, a desire for Baptism, and a desire to do good solely out of love for him.

2. Hymn or song (see previous page for suggestions)

3. Pray together Psalm 69 (see Participant’s Book)


How do you choose sponsors?
Reception of Candidates for Fullness of the Faith at the Easter Vigil. Is this still the practice or has it been changed?


The different status of the elect and the candidates must be kept in mind so that, when the Combined Rites prescribed in the ritual book are used,“anything that would equate [candidates] with catechumens [that is, the elect] is to be absolutely avoided” (RCIA 565).
It is important to note that the ritual book makes provision for, and expects, that not all candidates will be 
received into full communion at the EasterVigil (see RCIA 473-486) but recognizes, as a practical matter, that elect and previously uncatechized candidates may both be received at the EasterVigil (see RCIA 562). 

What is the criteria for picking a sponsor?

Sponsors must fulfill the requirements as stated in Canon Law 872-874 and RCIA Ritual Book #10.
It is important that candidates encounter Catholics filled with the faith. This topic is covered in detail in
our Leaders Manual chapter 19. You can find more on this from our blog here;

Does ACM recommend dismissal of catechumens after Rite of Acceptance is celebrated or only during Lent?


As a rule, the dismissal and Reflection on the Word should take place at one or more parish Masses every Sunday after the Rite of Acceptance, together with at least one RCIA team member who has been trained to help lead the catechumens in discussing and reflecting on the Sunday readings. “If for serious reasons the catechumens cannot leave” (RCIA 67C), the Church provides options in the dismissal
formularies that invite them to stay for the remainder of the Mass while acknowledging the fact that they are not yet able to partake of the Eucharist (see RCIA 67C). 
It is clear that the Church desires the catechumens to be dismissed, but it is equally clear that serious reasons can make this impossible for pastoral or practical reasons (see RCIA 67, 75.1). 

I notice that several of your resources are not currently available, are they being reprinted or updated? Is your other material okay to purchase or will they be being updated as well? Thank you

They are being reprinted and updated. The Participants Manual is in need of minor updates such as prayers like the Creed, Confetior and the Gloria. However these changes involve very few of the 380 handouts.

I notice that several of your resources are not currently available, are they being reprinted or updated? Is your other material okay to purchase or will they be being updated as well? Thank you

They are being reprinted and updated. The Participants Manual is in need of minor updates such as prayers like the Creed, Confetior and the Gloria. However these changes involve very few of the 380 handouts.

Woul you provide us with a sample reflection for the Rite of Acceptance/Welcome and the Rite of Election?

The best reflection for the Rites are the Rites themselves. Read them slowly and prayerfully to prepare for the preceding Catechumenate period as well as the Rite itself.

Do you know if there is RCIA material available in korean ? Could we get that from the korean parish in the Vancouver Docese : name & location , please . Thank you

ACM does not have any publications translated into Korean.

Can you attend RCIA classes without the intention of becoming Catholic, so just to understand the faith more fully?

You certainly could attend the inquiry sessions to find out more about Catholicism. However, as candidates are moving on to the Catechumenate they will declare their intention to become Catholic at the rite of Acceptance/ Welcoming. There is a certain dynamic that occurs among those moving toward discipleship and anticipating the sacraments of initiation. Someone who has declared no intention of becoming catholic would be a distraction to this dynamic. There are better ways for you to satisfy your curiosity about Catholicism.  I would suggest reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church  and The Map of Life by Frank Sheed.

I purchased the Participant's book w/CD and would like to know if you have the Participant's CD with handouts in the Spanish language or is it only in English?

Sorry, English only at this time.

We have an Inquirer who is telling me he will not be baptized publicly, and that if he must participate in the Easter Vigil baptism he will not participate i the process at all. Ca he be baptized earlier in th e day on Holy Saturday? And what about the o

This is a delicate pastoral issue. Having never met the person it is difficult to comment on their conversion status. How long have they been in the Precatechumenate? Are we dealing with extreme shyness, pride or something else. This person is worried about "public" Baptism but is unaware of the public Rite of Acceptance, Rite of Sending, Rite of Election and Scrutinies. However, based on what you have said, it appears that this person is not ready to enter the catechumenate. Go back and read #42-43 of the RCIA Ritual Book that details the requirements for entering the Catechumenate. I would suggest a meditation on John 13:1-17. Pay particular attention to Peter's change of heart. Try to get to the root of their problem with public Baptism and get your pastor involved.

Is there an online course of RCIA?

We do not offer an online training course for the RCIA. However, there is much you can gather from our web site to get a sound understanding of the catechumenal process. Start with this one hour video from our blog Then download and read the 7 free PDF files from the Home page.
These two suggestions would give you a basic understanding of the catechumenal process. To continue on your own, you could purchase the Leaders Manual and the RCIA Ritual Book and work your way through them. 

You may want to recommend ACM to your Diocesan RCIA official so that you could attend an ACM seminar in person :)


Which rites must sponsors attend? Can this be found in the Rite Book?


The Ritual Book describes sponsors of unbaptized inquirers as “persons who have known and assisted the candidates for admission to the catechumenate and stand as witnesses to the candidates’ moral character, faith, and intention” (RCIA 10). The ritual book does not specify the responsibilities of sponsors of baptized inquirers, so it is reasonable to assume that they are the same. This means that the leader must appoint sponsors for inquirers fairly early in the precatechumenate, so that sponsors will be able to stand up for inquirers at the Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming. The sponsors should attend all the major and minor rites of the Catechumenate as prescribed in the Ritual Book. See the following examples;


Rite of Acceptance/Welcoming            Ritual Book  53/420

Rite of Sending                                   Ritual Book  112/538

Rite of Election                                   Ritual Book  131/552

Scrutinies                                           Ritual Book  152/166/173

Penitential Rite                                   Ritual Book  468

Sacraments of Initiation                      Ritual Book  219/568


What are the lessons to use in the "Catechumenate" period?
Is it appropriate to integrate “fill in the blank” outlines to assist in Explanation aspect of the Ecclesial Method for RCIA?

I am assuming that your question concerns Catechist training. After a complete explanation of the ecclesial method that includes walking through some examples, handing out blank forms and having students develop a lesson plan following the ecclesial method would be a beneficial exercise.

What are the topics for candidates to RCIA?
I am an (American born )Catholic who has been living for the past 25 years in Austria. I am searching for the actual liturgical texts for the Baptism of an Adult into the Roman Catholic Church. Can you help or refer me?

The Rite of Baptism of adults is in the RCIA Ritual Book. In the United States edition it is 

paragraphs 218 to 230. I would suggest going to your local parish and asking the pastor 

to show you the rite.

What is the RCIC? Is this a new or other version of the RCIA?

RCIC = Rite of Christian Intiation of Children.

See pages 155-203 in the RCIA Ritual Book.

Is there a job description for RCIA coordinator?

A job description for RCIA coordinator will vary from Diocese and Parish. Here is a sample;




Job Title:  RCIA Coordinator                                                                                    


Department/Location:  Roman Catholic Parish


Primary Function:  Under the direction of the Pastor, Pastoral Administrator, or DRE, is responsible for directing the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process for the parish.  


Essential Duties and Responsibilities:

§  Perform as a lay minister in support of the parish’s spiritual and pastoral mission

§  Assist the pastor to articulate a vision of RCIA within the Parish community to include an assessment of needs, setting of priorities, setting of goals and objectives, and the implementation of the RCIA process

§  Recruit, train, and provide ongoing formation of members of the Catechumenate (RCIA) team; identify leaders within the community to assist with RCIA effort

§  Provide appropriate training materials as necessary

§  Coordinate the liturgical celebrations of the RCIA process

§  Administer all financial aspects of the RCIA process 

§  Ensure the existence of a safe environment is in place at all times

§  Prepare reports as necessary

§  Perform other duties as assigned


Physical/Mental Requirements:  Requires coordination and manual dexterity, normal mental and visual ability; ability to lift as required in a normal education and office environment. 


Required Activities:  Walking, sitting, standing, stooping, reaching, talking, handling, hearing, carrying, and keyboarding. 


Basic Qualifications:

§  Must have a working knowledge of and a strong commitment to the mission of the Diocese and Catholic Church; be in full communion with the Church

§  Excellent communications skills, verbal and written;  public speaking and presentation skills; excellent human relations and interpersonal skills

§  Exercise courtesy to fellow employees, parishioners and the general public

§  Must be a self-starter; well organized; perform multiple tasks simultaneously and work with a sense of urgency

§  Ability to maintain confidentiality

§  Ability to work collaboratively in a team environment; punctuality is a must at all times; ability to travel locally as required; weekend and overtime work may be required

§  Proficiency in computer technology to include word-processing, spreadsheets and power point Professional bearing; clean and neat personal appearance 

§  Ability to successfully pass a background, criminal history, and credit history check


Education and Experience:

§  Bachelor degree in Business or Public Administration or a related field or equivalent experience

§  3 years experience in a Catholic religious education environment as a practicing catechist 

§  Level 1 catechetical certification or equivalent education

what questions do the rcia team and the pastor ask at the rcia interview

Go here;

The next to last sample is the "Adult Inquirer Infromation Form".
At what point in the annulment process should candidates be permitted to formally join the catechumenate?

It is best to contact the appropriate Diocesan official concerning this issue. Rules vary across the country. Some dioceses do not allow candidates to participate in any part of the RCIA until a decree of nullity is issued. Some dioceses allow candidates to enter the inquiry stage during the marriage tribunal process.

We have more baptized non-Catholic candidates (mostly Baptist/Evangelicals) but also baptized Protestants. Their needs can vary quite a bit - how do I meet their catechetical needs as one group? I don't have the resources to do one-on-one teaching.


I am not sure what you mean by " baptized non catholic" and " baptized Protestant".
Let us assume everyone is a baptized Christian. As you can imagine these folks will come with a wide range of spiritual understanding and very little of a catholic world view. I have learned over the years to not assume much about candidates. You will learn much from your preliminary interviews but in all my years I have run into very few people who do not benefit from a comprehensive presentation of the faith. 
Do most baptized Christians need extensive Catholic catechesis?

It would be impossible to make a blanket statement about the necessary catechesis for a baptized christian. Each inquirer should be assessed individually and the necessary catechesis tailored to their needs.

My wife doesnt want to join the Church, will this cause a problem going through RCIA, also have been married 3 times before.

Your wife not wanting to join the Church is not an impediment for you. However, the three marriages may be. You need to talk with those in charge of the parish RCIA about your marriages as soon as possible.

Can a person not receiving the sacrament of the Eucharist go to confession , until they are able too?

Yes, if this person is Baptized and has received proper preparation for the sacrament.

what cd's are available for purchase on Resurrection etc?

The Catechist Manual contains 60 lesson plans on the doctrines of the faith. To accompany the lesson plans the Participants Manual contains 380 handouts. The Resurrection is directly covered in the lesson called "The Paschal Mystery" and has two handouts, "THe Paschal Mystery" and "The Resurrection". Read more about our publications here,

Do you have a printed year-round RCIA model for both Inquiry and Catechumenate?

Yes, please see the video and handouts on the blog entry titled Integrating a Systematic Catechesis with a Year-Round R.C.I.A. Process.

Do you offer a program that can be used for both our Spanish and English speaking community? We would like to use the exact same program. Thank you

ACM has translated the 60 lesson plans from the Catechist Manuel into Spanish.
Please go here   to see what else is available in Spanish.

Where can I find good, solid RCIT (Teens) material that parallels the ACM RCIA material? Does anyone have anything they are using for teens that they like and that feeds the teens at their level?e

Thank you for inquiring about ACM’s materials for the Teen and Children’s Catechumenate. 

My name is Ruth Prats and I oversee this area for ACM. 
At this time, the Association of Catechumenal Ministry does not have Teen and Children’s publications. 
I have been doing the Children and Teen Catechumenate in my parish for the past 20 years.  I use the Faith and Life Series by Ignatius Press.  The  Third Edition of the series is an update of the Revised Edition so the text conforms to the new liturgical translation of the Roman Missal. The series has a text and an activity book to accompany it.  We use both in my parish.  I think you will find the catechesis systematic and organic and the artwork reflects the beauty of our Catholic faith.  I usually go down a grade or two in the books that I use with the students.  For grade 6, I use grade 4 materials.  For my high school students,  I use grade 7.
I hope this is a help for you.
May God bless all of your good work for His Church.
Which saints can I quote in reference to papal infallibility?

St ignatius of Antioch, St Clement, St Irenaeus of Lyons, St Cyprian, St Jerome, St Augustine, St Peter Chrysologus, Pope St Victor, Pope St Zephyrinus, Pope St Callistus, Pope St Steven I, Pope St Dionysius, St Thomas Aquinas.

See the book titled "Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma" by Ludwig Ott, pages 286-289.

Can absolution be given to a person cohabitating on the condition he/she live celibate until the day they receive the sacraments of initiation?

This question is best answered by your Pastor.

I would say that this person would agree to remain celibate until the day they are married.

How do I work at getting a vibrant alive RCIA process when the pastor and parish congregation is luke warm at best?

The RCIA team will have to carry the day in this situation. Your passion, enthusiasm and command of the RCIA process may influence your pastor and in turn the parish.  

What type of white garment is appropriate to use for adult catechumens?

Some parishes use albs that may be available from the sacristry.

The pastor should be consulted if he does not object to a white stole like garment that can be used and is used by many parishes. There is no confusion here with priestly vestments because the authority the priest's stole represents is quite clearly different than the white garment distributed at Baptism. However this is a pastoral decision.

Some RCIA teams make garments (sometimes the sponsors are involved).  This requires planning, sizing, and in all cases, the pastor should be consulted.

What is Breaking Open the Word?

What has become known as “Breaking Open the Word” is found in RCIA 67.

67. After the dismissal formulary, the group of catechumens goes out but does not disperse. With the help of some of the faithful, the catechumens remain together to share their joy and spiritual experiences.

The Rite of dismissal is not an end in itself, but a means to move the catechumens (unbaptized) and perhaps candidates (baptized) (see RCIA 406) to a place where they can be spiritually fed. Though they cannot yet come to the table of the Eucharist, Mother Church still has an obligation to feed those who have entered into a relationship with her through the Rites of Acceptance and Welcoming (celebrated recently). This obligation is fulfilled by sending them out to dwell more richly on the Word of God that they have just heard at Mass.

His Word is their only food during this period. Participants depart from the Mass with one or several RCIA team members, godparents, and sponsors to go out to discuss the readings for that Sunday and experience more fully the impact of the Scriptures in their lives. While the congregation is being nourished by Jesus in the Eucharist, those seeking to join us at the sacred table are being nourished by Jesus in the sacred words of Scripture.

The session is not catechetical in its intent; it follows from the liturgical experience, and concludes approximately when the Mass concludes. Breaking Open the Word sessions are not opportunities for the delivery of a prepared catechesis. It is to be a facilitated reflection upon the content of the Liturgy of Word for that Sunday, and opportunity for each participant to actively engage the Scriptural text and to be fed by that encounter with the Word.

What are the acclamations from Scripture for in Appendix II of the RCIA manual?

The acclamations are found in the RCIA text (see RCIA 595). They are provided for RCIA leaders to make use of in Celebrations of the Word (Liturgies of the Word, see RCIA 81-89), normally following the “Alleluia” in preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel reading.

Can baptized Christians be received into the Church outside of the Easter Vigil?

Yes. It is in some cases encouraged (see RCIA 409 and National Statutes 20-21, 31-34).

How many documents of Vatican Council II contain references to the restoration of the catechumenate?

Five documents of the Council address the issue: the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium), the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium), the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops (Christus Dominus), the Decree on Ministry of Priests (Presbyterorum Ordinis), and the Decree on Mission Activity of the Church (Ad Gentes).

Is it acceptable and/or desirable to dismiss candidates along with the catechumens for “Breaking Open the Word”?

There is a certain value of liturgical purity that is validly argued by those who advocate only dismissing the unbaptized catechumens. This recognizes that catechumens, lacking Baptism, are not yet joined to Christ sacramentally, and would greatly benefit from the additional spiritual nourishment that the Church can offer at the table of the Word of God, as they prepare to join the community at the Eucharistic table. The other side of this issue notes that, although baptized, the candidates cannot partake of the Eucharist either, and so would also benefit from deepening their experience of the Sunday readings in this special way. The RCIA text allows for this discernment of pastoral need, without directly calling for candidates to join the catechumens in the dismissal Rite (see RCIA 83 and 406).

When should an RCIA director seek to learn if any participants have potential annulment issues? What are the first couple steps that must taken regarding an annulment?

Annulment issues need to be identified as early as possible, for the sake of beginning the annulment process for those whose living situations might call for pastoral scrutiny, and for the sake of allowing a participant to move forward to sacramental initiation, if possible, in a timely fashion commensurate with their readiness and desire to become a Catholic.

The first steps are to conduct a private interview to determine the need for an annulment, and the nature of the case. The pastor, if not conducting the initial interview personally, should be involved as soon as a case comes to light. While taking the time to ensure a participant understands the Catholic Church’s teachings regarding annulments, the initial interview should in no way impart a false hope or make any promises about the outcome of a case, however well intentioned. Beyond this, a pastor should assist the participant in assembling a package for the diocesan tribunal, and encourage the RCIA team to be attentive to the pastoral needs and sensitivities inherent in annulment cases that impact a participant’s likelihood of sacramental participation.

What is the role of the mystagogue in the mystagogy process?

The term mystagogue can be defined as "a person who initiates into mysteries" and comes from two Greek words: mystes "one initiated into the mysteries" and agogos "leading, a leader."

In the early Church, this concept was used to describe the bishop who gave what are known as "Mystagogical Homilies" - exhortations given to the newly baptized regarding the sacraments they had received at the Easter Vigil.  One of the most famous of these mystagogical works is On the Mysteries by St. Ambrose of Milan.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: Liturgical catechesis aims to initiate people into the mystery of Christ (It is "mystagogy.") by proceeding from the visible to the invisible, from the sign to the thing signified, from the "sacraments" to the "mysteries." (#1075)

These bishops in the early Church - also known as the Early Church Fathers - gave incredible post-baptismal homilies that described the power of the sacraments by means of elaborating upon the symbolic or sign aspect of the sacrament.  They would do this using the Bible.

Let's remember what a sacrament is: an outward sign instituted by Christ that gives grace.  Each sacramental sign is wholly Biblical and has deep roots in the Old Testament.  Each sacramental sign speaks volumes about the grace that is given through its performance.

The famous mystagogue mentioned above, St. Ambrose, led his neophytes (the newly baptized) to see the power of their baptism by a form of Biblical catechesis that showed how water is both a sign of life and death in the Old Testament.  Baptism, through the use of water, destroys sin and grants the new life of grace.  To see this for yourself, see Chapter 3 of On the Mysteries.

St. Ambrose and the other bishops waited to give this liturgical catechesis until after baptism because baptism enabled the baptized person to understand the sacraments in a way unlike an unbaptized person.

"The neophytes are, as the term 'mystagogy' suggests, introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of the mysteries through the Gospel message they have learned and above all through their experience of the sacraments they have received.  For they have truly been renewed in mind, tasted more deeply the sweetness of God's word, received the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, and grown to know the goodness of the Lord.  Out of this experience, which belongs to Christians and increases as it is lived, they derive a new perception of the faith, of the Church, and of the world." (RCIA, n. 245)

This postbaptismal catechesis known as mystagogy in the early Church would happen during the Sunday Masses with the bishop during the Easter Season, following the Easter Vigil.  So, the RCIA says:

"Since the distinctive spirit and power of the period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy derive from the new, personal experience of the sacraments and of the community, its main setting is the so-called Masses for neophytes, that is, the Sunday Masses of the Easter season." (RCIA, n. 247)

The RCIA envisions mystagogy's main setting to be a Sunday Mass celebrated specifically with the neophytes in mind.

"All the neophytes and their godparents should make an effort to take part in the Masses for the neophytes and the entire local community should be invited to participate with them.  Special places in the congregation are to be reserved for the neophytes and their godparents.  The homily and, as circumstances suggest, the general intercessions should take into account the presence and needs of the neophytes." (RCIA, n. 248)

This brings us full circle to the question at hand: What is the role of the mystagogue in the mystagogy process?

The mystagogue is primarily the priest or deacon who gives the homilies during the Masses for the neophytes.  The role of the mystagogue is to explain the power and reality behind the signs of the sacraments by giving a Biblical catechesis using the readings just read in the Liturgy of the Word.

"[T]hese celebrations include particularly suitable readings from the Lectionary, especially the readings for Year A.  Even when Chrsitian initiation has been celebrated outside the usual times, the texts for these Sunday Masses of the Easter season may be used." (RCIA, n. 247)

These readings for Year A for the Easter Season were handpicked for mystagogy.

In the United States, the National Statutes for the Catechumenate state:

"After the completion of their Christian initiation in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and eucharist, the meophytes should begin the period of mystagogy by participating in the principal Sunday eucharist of the community throughout the Easter season, which ends on Pentecost Sunday.  They should do this as a body in company with their godparents and those who have assisted in their Christian formation." (RCIA, Ap. III, n. 22)

This helps us to see that the Masses for neophytes are not scheduled at some new time apart from the normal Sunday Masses celebrated at the parish church.  Rather, the parish should pick one of the regular Sunday Masses and appoint that particular Mass during the Easter season to be focused upon the neophytes.

Apart from the principal mystagogue, other catechists can and should help the newly baptized neophytes through a deeper Scripture study of the sacraments.  This study should "embrace a deepened understanding of the mysteries of baptism, confirmation, and the eucharist, and especially of the eucharist as the continuing celebration of faith and conversion." (RCIA, Ap. III, n. 23)

Here are two good resources for catechists:

The Sacraments in Scripture: Salvation History Made Present by Tim Gray.
Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians by Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina

Finally, part of leading the neophytes includes "thoughtful and friendly help" given to the neophytes as well as "doing the works of charity" (RCIA, n. 244).  This can be done through personal one-on-one encounters and through participation in the apostolic endeavors of parish life.

Why shouldn't a spouse serve as a sponsor?

Inquirers sometimes suggest a Catholic spouse, fiancé(e), or “significant other” to serve as godparent or sponsor. It is not prohibited by the code of Canon Law or the ritual book, but it also is not advisable, even if they meet the canonical requirements.

The close emotional tie makes it difficult for the inquirer to freely choose to become a Catholic. It also is difficult for the godparent or sponsor to remain objective if problems arise that threaten the conversion, such as doubts about a certain doctrine on the part of the person who is trying to decide whether to become Catholic. There can be a temptation for the godparent or sponsor to not allow such a crisis to run its proper course, since he or she has so much stake in the person’s “successful” completion of the process. The participant then is deprived of the disinterested advice and loving, but non-pressuring support that a godparent or sponsor should be providing.

A pastoral solution for inquirers is appointing a parish sponsor and inviting the spouse, fiancé(e), or “significant other” to accompany the inquirer to the catechetical sessions and liturgies. Should a participant, however, then choose the spouse/fiancé(e)/”significant other” as a godparent before the Rite of Election (which cannot be prohibited), the leader might suggest that the participant choose the parish sponsor as another godparent, canonically permissible so long as both godparents are not of the same sex.

This year, our pastor has announced that the RCIA will not meet during Lent. Is this something new? Have we been doing something wrong in the past?

Pastors are given authority over the Christian initiation process for the people he shepherds in a given parish. However, that authority exists within the context of higher authorities, that of his bishop and the Magisterium.

Regarding the Magisterium, its main voice in regard to Christian initiation is the Rite of Christian Initiation itself, and its accompanying guidelines. In those authoritative guidelines (see paragraphs 138-139), which were mandated for the United States as normative in 1988, there is a clear assumption that gatherings of those preparing for initiation are still ongoing during Lent (termed the Period of Purification and Enlightenment in the text). These guidelines specify that the formation of elect and candidates in this period takes on a more spiritual than catechetical bent. This is expressive of the fact that, as the guidelines state, “the catechumenal formation of the elect is completed” (paragraph 147), in terms of them having received the total necessary instruction on the Deposit of Faith, and therefore is about “more intense spiritual preparation, consisting more in interior reflection than in catechetical instruction” (paragraph 139).

The delivery of the full doctrine of the Church is indeed supposed to be completed before Lent, hence allowing them to make a decision to enter the Church, which is expressed and confirmed at the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. During Lent, the Church is clearly still forming them spiritually and in readiness for the sacraments. The possibility of gatherings for reflection and formation are also assumed in the option ‘B’ forms of the dismissals at the end of each of the Presentation Rites in Lent and at the end of the Scrutiny Rites (see paragraphs 155, 162, 169, 183).

Confirming this are the directives added by our U.S. bishops, normally published in the third appendix of the Vatican’s RCIA text. It states: “…beginning at acceptance into the order of catechumens and including both the catechumenate proper and the period of purification and enlightenment after election or enrollment of names should extend for at least one year of formation, instruction, and probation.” (National Statutes, paragraph 6).

Finally, you may wish to ask your diocesan office for a copy of its sacramental norms for the Christian initiation process, which may provide further support for your understanding of the Rite.

There has been no recent change that would modify these normative guidelines, and although the form of the gatherings certainly should be different from the doctrinal catechesis that precedes Lent, there is nothing to in any way prohibit or discourage gathering the RCIA group during the weeks of that period.