What is Christian Initiation of Adults?
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is a process for adults and older children who seek Jesus and feel drawn to the Catholic faith. Christian initiation is a journey into deeper knowledge and love of Jesus and our Catholic way of life: a way of prayer, worship, listening to the word of God and discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit. This journey takes place within the parish community. Conversion to Christ is at the heart of this journey both for those seeking membership of the Church and the parish community.
The journey of each individual will vary depending on their own story and particular needs. There is no ‘one size fits all’ process to be followed. Your local Parish Team will enter into conversation to help facilitate a journey that meets your particular needs.
Generally the process of Christian Initiation has three main times: a time of enquiry, a time of deepening and conversion, and a time of celebration (usually Easter).
The outline on the rest of this page describes the journey for someone who is not already baptised.
There are four stages in the journey of Christian Initiation for Adults , with a special ceremony of “rite” taking the person from one stage to the next. These ceremonies or “rites” are celebrated in the presence of the faith community.
Each person undertaking the journey of Christian Initiation is given a companion to journey with them - a committed Catholic referred to as a Sponsor.
Stage 1 Pre - Catechumenate
This is a time for inquiry and introduction to gospel values, an opportunity for the beginnings of faith. Participants will have the chance to:
- enquire about the Catholic faith
- ask about the process of Christian Initiation
- spend some time sharing with other Catholics
- meet Jesus in the Scriptures
- listen, reflect and decide.
For those participants who wish to continue, this first stage concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens.
Afterwards, aspirants are referred to as “Catechumens”.
Stage 2 Catechumenate
This is a time for the nurturing and growth of the catechumen’s faith and conversion to God; celebrations of the word and prayers and blessings are meant to assist this part of the journey. Participants will have the chance to:
- grow in faith and conversion to God
- change in thinking, feelings and values
- gain knowledge about the Christian faith as understood by the Catholic Church
- to join the faith community during the weekly celebration of Mass
- to begin to participate in the mission and life of the parish community
- meet regularly with others who are also undertaking the journey of Christian Initiation.
This stage concludes with the celebration of the Rite of Election, where the Church formally acknowledges the readiness of participants to move towards the celebration of Christian Initiation. . This celebration is presided over by the Bishop, and takes place on the 1st Sunday in Lent, at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hamilton.
After the Rite of Election, catechumens are known as “the Elect” and then select a godparent.
Stage 3 Pre - Purification and Enlightenment
This is the time immediately preceding the elects’ initiation, usually the Lenten season preceding the celebration of this initiation at the Easter Vigil; it is a time of reflection, intensely centred on conversion, marked by a number of liturgical celebrations.
During this stage, the Elect join with the entire faith community to embrace the Season of Lent, a time of change and conversion for all.
This stage concludes with the celebration of Christian Initiation at the Easter Vigil, where the Elect celebrate the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, and are admitted to Communion for the first time.
Stage 4 Mystagogia
This is a time, usually the Easter Season, following the celebration of initiation, during which the newly initiated, now known as “Neophytes”, continue to grow in their new faith and membership of the faith community. Neophytes have the opportunity to:
- reflect on the experience of initiation at the Easter Vigil
- Reflect more deeply on the mysteries of our faith and the Sacraments
- experience membership of the faith community
- deepen their participation with the parish community at Sunday Mass
- continue to participate in the mission and life of the parish.