Bishop William F. Medley greets Catechumens during the March 10, 2019 Rite of Election at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro, as part of the RCIA process. TINA KASEY | WKC
BY DR. JEFF ANDRINI, OFFICE OF EVANGELIZATION AND DISCIPLESHIP
As I have been traveling around our diocese offering the Encounter Love/Encounter Jesus experience, one sentiment continues to come up, “Other adults in our parish need to experience this retreat…” Adults are hungry to grow in their faith and long to experience the joy and presence of God in their daily lives. What does the Church say about adult faith formation and how can this lead to helping Catholics evangelize?
The U.S. bishops say that the Catechumenal Model used in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is to be the model for all adult faith formation. The RCIA was approved in 1972 as the way to bring adults into the Church. The first of the four phases is Inquiry, where the individual is welcomed and specific care is taken to understand their needs and invite them into a relationship with Jesus through prayer. Personal stories of God’s activity are shared and the importance of trusting God and putting this relationship at the center of one’s life is the goal. Once the Catechumen (the adult to be baptized) desires to live in a right relationship with God and turn their lives over to Jesus, then the next stage begins, which is the Catechumenate – where they systematically learn the faith by studying the scriptures and walk with the parish community. Here the parish becomes the curriculum, and they learn what it means to follow Jesus by living with other disciples. Prior to receiving the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter, they experience the third stage, which is the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This time is rooted in deep prayer, reflection, and spiritual exercises. Following the reception of the sacraments, the newly baptized spend “at least a year” in a formal process called Mystagogy, which is rooted in understanding and living the mystery of our faith. This whole process is the Catechumenal Model.
The RCIA has been a huge success in evangelizing adults by helping them to respond to Jesus’ invitation of divine union and a lifelong journey of learning and growth. The opportunity we now have is to help all adults in the Church to experience ongoing formation with this model. What might this look like?
A vibrant parish where adults evangelize other adults focuses on the importance of each member being a missionary disciple through baptism. Personal daily prayer and a living relationship with God is foundational and there is ownership for a co-responsibility with the pastor and staff to create a welcoming, kind, and dynamic community. The parish will be a community of small groups where people regularly prayer together, share their lives and stories of faith and reflect on scripture. The Holy Spirit will be moving in the hearts of all members and the faith of the parish will be attractive to the world.
Please join me in praying for this renewal and email questions about evangelization you would like to see addressed in this monthly column.
Peace in Christ,
Dr. Jeff Andrini is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship. Please send comments and questions to email@example.com.
We want to hear from you!
What do you wish you knew about evangelization? Do you want to know how to share your faith better with friends and family? Are you curious about parts of Catholicism that you don’t understand? Dr. Jeff Andrini wants to hear from you and maybe feature your questions in his column! Please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally printed in the September 2022 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.