I am not baptized
Individuals who are not baptized are invited, through the RCIA experience, to explore the possibility of being baptized in the Catholic Church. The various periods of the RCIA process are designed to support individuals seeking baptism in their discernment and if they choose, to prepare them for the rites of initiation and living the Christian life in the Catholic tradition. Movement through these periods is marked by ritual celebrations with the parish community.
The periods of the RCIA process are:
Pre-Catechumenate, also known as the Inquiry: Anyone who is interested in exploring the Catholic Church is welcome to participate in the weekly inquiry sessions, where individuals may ask questions and gather information. This time of inquiry is to help each person discern whether s/he wants to consider fuller participation in the Catholic faith community. This period has no set time duration. An individual may remain an inquirer as long as necessary to discern whether s/he wants to continue with the process.
If an inquirer feels ready to continue with the process, s/he will move into the Period of the Catechumenate and will be called a catechumen. The Catechumenate is, in essence, a time of apprenticeship in the Christian way of life. It includes deeper spiritual and faith formation, prayer and reflection, and involvement with the parish community. While there is no defined length of time for an unbaptized person who is considering initiation to be a catechumen, the period extends for at least one year. This period begins with the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate, where inquirers are introduced to the parish community at a Sunday Mass. After the Rite of Acceptance, catechumens are normally dismissed each week during Sunday Mass after the Liturgy of the Word for further conversation and reflection.
Purification and Enlightenment
When a catechumen is ready to commit even more fully to preparing for initiation into the Catholic Church, s/he will move into the Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This period of more intense preparation begins with the Rite of Election on the first Sunday of the Season of Lent, when the bishop of the local church calls the catechumens to the sacramental rituals of initiation. The Period of Purification and Enlightenment coincides with the 40 days of Lent.
The period of formation culminates with the sacramental rites of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
For one year after initiation, those who are newly baptized are known as “neophytes.” During this time, the neophytes are invited to continue with their spiritual and faith formation and to participate more fully in the life of the parish community of Holy Trinity.