Adult Initiation

 

The process of formation for sacraments of initiation for non-Catholic adults and school age children and for those baptized Catholic but not raised in the faith is detailed in the church document entitled Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.   The process is referred to as Adult Initiation. 

 

The entire parish community takes part in the initiation of adults but it is those members who serve as sponsors for those to be initiated who are most directly involved.  Parishioner volunteers make up the initiation team that coordinates the various events and activities associated with the preparation and initiation of new members.  Parishioners also serve as hosts and hostesses and as facilitators for Breaking Open the Word faith sharing sessions.

 

There are four periods of preparation and three steps in being initiated into the Catholic Church.  The first period of formation is the Inquiry Period.  There is no obligation on the Inquirers part to the Church nor on the part of the Church to the Inquirers.  It is an informal time for the Inquirer of getting acquainted and asking questions.  After some time there will be some people who decide that they do want to become Catholics.  At that point the first step in initiation is celebrated.  For Unbaptized persons it is the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and they become Catechumens.  For baptized persons it is the Rite of Welcome and they become candidates for full communion.  With this first step they officially become a part of the Catholic community with privileges and responsibilities. 

 

The second period of formation is the Catechumenate Period, which is a time of more formal instruction, a wide variety of prayer experiences and a time of living the life of a Catholic Christian.  They are members in training.  This is intended to be a time of gradually coming into the faith and life of the Catholic Christian.  For Unbaptized persons there is a national statute that this period lasts for at least a full liturgical year.  The only normal time unbaptized persons complete their initiation is during the Paschal Triduum.  Baptized persons may complete their initiation during Ordinary Time anytime during the year.

 

The second step in initiation is the Rite of Election (for unbaptized) and the Rite of Call to Continued Conversion (for baptized) and begins the third period of formation known as the Purification Period.   It is the season of Lent just before completing initiation.  During this more spiritual period the catechumens and candidates scrutinize their lives praying to be released for that which keeps them from growing closer to God and strengthening that which draws them closer to God.  

 

The third and last step in initiation is sacramental initiation at the Easter Vigil with baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist for Unbaptized catechumens and for baptized candidates a profession of faith, Confirmation and Eucharist.

 

The fourth and final period of formation is that shared with all Catholic Christians as we grow in our relationship with God and understanding and accepting the mysteries of the faith.  It is called Mystagogy and lasts all our life as we await the coming of Jesus in glory.

 

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