In 1971, in response to the call of the Second Vatican Council, the Church dramatically revised the process of becoming Catholic. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults or RCIA, while new in a sense, was not really new. It was an effort to restore the spirit of early Christianity by emphasizing conversion as a participation in the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the role of the entire praying, witnessing and teaching Body of Christ in giving support and shape to that journey.
RCIA is a process which includes a series of rites in the context of learning about the faith and spiritual formation. Through this process, a person is fully incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church.
People involved in the RCIA process are either catechumens or candidates. Catechumens are those who have never been baptized. Candidates are those who have been baptized in other Christian denominations, whose baptism is recognized as valid.
The four stages in the RCIA process are: the Precatechumanate, the Catechumenate, the Period of Purification and Enlightenment and Mystagogy. The celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation is held at the Easter Vigil. During Easter, we celebrate Christ’s victory over death and our sharing in that victory through our baptism.