RCIA - means “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults”. However, it is not just for adults. It is for anyone over the age of 7 who wants to become Catholic or for any uncatechized Catholic wishing to receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Eucharist.
RCIA at Notre Dame is a new initiation. Typically, RCIA would be found in a parish setting. However, in recent years, students have been approaching faculty and Campus Ministry about a strong desire to become Catholic or to complete their Sacraments of Initiation. We are fortunate in that we now have a full-time chaplain who can celebrate the liturgical ceremonies which mark and celebrate the stages of RCIA. We do so in school liturgies.
RCIA is a process. What does that mean? Those who enter the RCIA process hopefully experience a conversion in Christ - a conversion which never ends. Those who participate in RCIA are fully initiated into the Catholic Church through reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. However, as Catholics, they will never stop participating in this process of conversion. ALL of us who are baptized are called to continual conversion. The RCIA process incorporates an aspect of journeying together towards a closer relationship with God. Thus, students are asked to choose someone who will journey with them in a mentorship capacity. They may choose another fully initiated student at Notre Dame, or they may choose a family member. These mentors are called Sponsors.
Aside from the Liturgical aspect of RCIA, there is also a catechetical component. This is an opportunity for the students to come together to discuss what it means to be a Catholic, to answer questions they may have about Church teachings, and to participate in further faith formation. All of this preparation will be done during school time, usually at activity period. We do provide a retreat experience for students prior to the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation. Since this is a process, no student should feel compelled to celebrate any rites or Sacraments before they feel they are ready. They can stay involved in the RCIA process for as long as they like, years even. We encourage parents to be part of this process as well. As the Catholic Church teaches, parents are the primary teachers of the faith to their children. We do not want to circumvent this relationship, but rather to partner with parents.
The Sacraments of Initiation each year will be celebrated during the Easter Liturgy at Notre Dame, prior to the break for Easter. Parents and family are invited to this Liturgy, as well as any other liturgical celebrations.
After reception of the Sacraments of Initiation, our goal is to help students ease into a parish or college campus ministry to continue the faith journey begun here at Notre Dame.
NOTE: Catholic students who have received Baptism and First Eucharist, but have not received Confirmation would not be part of RCIA. We have a separate process for those students seeking Confirmation at this time.