Have you been worshiping with us, but never officially took the step to become Catholic?
Have you been away from the church … and have now returned, but want to know more?
Have you been a Catholic all your life, but never celebrated all of the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist)?
Have you joined us from a different faith community and would now like to find out more about the Catholic Church?
Are you seeking a deeper personal relationship with Jesus but have never been Baptized?
If any of the above questions apply to you, we would love to help you in your journey! Or, if you know of anyone who could answer YES to any of the above questions, perhaps you should extend an invitation to them!
Please contact our Pastor, Fr. Sal Stefula, for more information (813) 839-5337 Ext. 115.
St. Patrick Catholic Church sincerely embraces the clear understanding that initiating new members is the responsibility of the entire community, and through the RCIA Team, sponsors, and the worshiping assembly, offers a welcoming environment for anyone who is interested in learning more about our Catholic faith community. Are you eager to learn more about the Catholic faith and/or become a Catholic? Or, do you know someone like this? The RCIA program is here to help and guide you through this beautiful journey.
What is RCIA?
RCIA is the acronym for: the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. RCIA is primarily a journey of faith and conversion to answer the commission of Jesus to “Go Make Disciples”. RCIA is a restoration of the ancient practice of initiation in the church. RCIA is an exciting, loving and open journey centered on conversion of the heart which brings one into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior. It is a time whereby the candidates enter into an extended period of formation and conversion through prayer and reflection on the Gospels and service. It is also a communal journey in which the Catholic Faith Community ritually celebrates conversion at various points during the journey. It is not a program as much as a sacramental journey in which candidates are fully initiated into the Catholic faith.
Who is RCIA For?
RCIA welcomes those who have …
+ Have reached the age of reason (age 7) but have not yet been baptized.
+ Are baptized members of another Faith Community who are interested in entering into the Full Communion of the Catholic Church.
+ Are baptized Catholics who have not receive Eucharist and/or Confirmation
+ Are fully initiated Catholics who have been away from your faith community and have come home and wish to learn more about your faith.
Should any of these statements define where you currently are in your faith journey, please contact Fr. Sal Stefula for more information (813) 839-5337 Ext. 115. Also, please see the frequently ask questions which might provide more information.
What Steps are involved?
I. The first pillar in the RCIA journey is the Inquiry (or Pre-Catechumenate) Period. In this period, time is given to:
a. Ask any questions one may have related to the Catholic Community.
b. To reflect on Scripture and Prayer in our daily lives.
c. To look at the Story of the People of God and each of our stories.
d. Enough time is provided in order for the individual to determine if he/she is being
called to join this community of believers. This could be a few months to a year.
e. To experience a moment of conversion where the individual discerns if they are
called to move forward.
II. The second pillar is the Period of the Catechumenate. This is the longest period in the journey. The journey brings to maturity the calling from the Inquiry Period and is manifested in four ways:
a. Catechesis -A time of serious study of the tenets of the Church
b. Liturgical rites – Public Rites as well as joining the community in Sunday Liturgy
c. Community life – Becoming an active member of the faith community of St. Patrick
d. Stewardship – giving of your time and talent
III. The third pillar is known as the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This period corresponds to that liturgical time known as Lent and has the character of a time of retreat (a time of stepping away from normal life to spend time in reflection, prayer and praise). This is for the elect who are preparing for Baptism, for the Candidates who will complete their initiation or enter the full communion of the Catholic Church, and for the faithful who will commemorate their own Baptism at Easter.
a. During this period the elect and candidates are encouraged to join with the entire Church in a deeper practice of works of charity and in the practice of fasting.
b. The Scrutinies are celebrated on the third, fourth, and fifth Sundays of the Lenten
c. For the elect, the presentations of the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer are also
celebrated during this period.
d. The elect and the candidates are advised that on Holy Saturday they should
refrain from their usual activities, instead spending time in prayer and reflection.
IV. The final pillar of the journey is known as Mystagogy. This lasts from the second Sunday of Easter until the completion of the Easter season which is celebrated on Pentecost Sunday, fifty days later, and completes the initiation process. It is also a time to prepare each person to fully answer the call of Christ: “To Go Make Disciples” by your lives. This is realized by reflecting on the Easter joy they reflect as they look to the future as to how they can personally share in the mission of Christ who came to bring hope, salvation and life to the whole world. By the presence of the new members of the community is an example the whole church that life in Christ constantly calls us to grow and to look for new ways to live the life of grace, personally and together; in short being disciples.
How long does it take?
+ The Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) is neither a journey, nor a final destination.
+ It is the church’s way of ministering sensitively and individually to those who seek a deeper relationship with Jesus in this faith community. It is the Church’s avenue to make disciples.
For this reason some people will need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with discipleship in the Catholic Church. For those already baptized and who seek full communion in the Catholic Church, the time will also vary.
+ It seems reasonable that Catechumens or uncatechized Candidates experience one full year of formation and instruction in order to make an informed decision.
+ The process of spiritual renewal and catechesis should not be hasty, especially for those not accustomed to the way Catholics observe certain fasts, feasts, Sundays, and the liturgical seasons.+ The Christian Initiation of Adults must be integrated into the Easter Vigil.