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Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA)

RCIA is a process by which adults enter fully into the Catholic faith to follow Christ in the Church.  This is a journey of deep personal discernment as well as instruction of the faith.  The need for Baptism is clear from the Bible (Matthew 28:19; Romans 6) and the Eucharist is clearly taught be Christ (John 6:27-69), celebrated by Christ before and after his death (Luke 22 and 24), and handed on by the Apostles (1 Cor 11:23).  Confirmation is a type of sacred sealing with oil like what we hear in Psalm 23.  In the Old Testament, priests, prophets, and kings were all anointed with oil poured over the head.  From the earliest times, Baptism and Confirmation went together as part of the same ritual and they ended at the Lord’s table.  Baptism and Confirmation are celebrated only once because their graces are permanent.  Holy Communion is given to us in an ongoing way because our hungers for the Lord are never fully satisfied.  To be fully initiated into the Catholic faith is to have these three Sacraments – the Sacraments of Initiation.

RCIA envisions three different groups of people

1) the unbaptized.  If you have faith in the Lord Jesus but are unbaptized, then the Holy Spirit is drawing you towards Baptism.  The process is beautiful and is filled with many moments to deepen your faith and to receive God’s blessing.  Forming and purifying the heart take time so don’t be discouraged.
2) those who are baptized but non-Catholic.  If you were baptized into a Christian Tradition and are seeking to enter into the life and identity of the Catholic Church, then we invite you as well into a process of preparation to be Confirmed and to receive the Eucharist.  Your faith already connects you to Christ but your formation in the Catholic Church needs time to learn, ask questions, and pray.
3) uncatechized Catholics.  You may have been baptized as an infant and then were never raised in the faith.  Although parents make a promise on behalf of their children at Baptism, life happens.  These candidates deserve a time of formation to realize and actualize the graces that God has for them.

For Catholics who were not confirmed due to timing or not being ready for the Sacrament, this group will likely be the best place for you to renew your faith, think, pray, and learn.  Your presence will be a blessing to the group and the group will likely be a blessing to you as well.

We have an RCIA Team who tailors the formation process each year to the needs of the group.  The makeup of the group always looks different although the general process is the same.

If you are interested in the RCIA Program, please contact us.


Terms and Definitions
  • Catechumens are the unbaptized who are now preparing for the Sacraments.  The Church celebrates these adults who are seeking to commit their lives to Christ.
  • Candidates are those adults preparing to receive either Confirmation or Eucharist and to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith.
  • Sponsors are companions who journey with the candidates, who can vouch for them, and who stand at their side when they are presented to the community.
  • Sponsors of the unbaptized are technically Godparents.  The requirements for Sponsors and Godparents is that they are at least 16, have all of their Sacraments, and are not the parents of the candidate.
  • A Rite is any combination of prayers, blessings, sacred moments, declarations, or presentations at Mass that mark a process of Initiation.
  • A Christian is one who recognizes Jesus as Lord, is baptized, and seeks to be a disciple of Christ and a member of his Body, the Church.


Easter Fire, Blessed Sacrament
Baptism at Blessed Sacrament, Harrisonburg
Laying on of Hands, Baptism at Blessed Sacrament