What is RCIA?

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults or RCIA is a process in which participants "undergo…conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments…The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism."

Likewise, the language used in the RCIA process is that of the early Church formation programs. Catechumens are those people who are seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church through all of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation. Candidates are people who have been baptized in a Christian tradition but are seeking initiation into the Catholic Church through Eucharist and Confirmation.

All are Welcome!

RCIA is a process of study, exploration, faith-sharing, and faith formation with specific liturgical rites for seekers and inquirers. Seekers and inquirers are non-baptized adults who desire to be fully initiated into the Roman Catholic Church and/or baptized adult Christians who desire full communion in the Roman Catholic Church.

Adults or older children who have not been baptized and desire to join the Church are invited into the ancient celebration of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. During this process, which is marked by regular ritual acts, participants are introduced to the liturgy, the teachings, and the life of the Catholic Church.

Adults or older children who were baptized in another Christian denomination prepare similarly for the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist during their reception into the Catholic Church.

RCIA is a Journey

The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a process that proceeds over weeks and months. It has several steps:

Rite of Initiation

The first Rite in the RCIA process, the Rite of Initiation accepts new members into the worshipping community.


The longest part of the process, the Catechumenate is a time of learning and formation in the traditions and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a time for sharing stories, reading scripture, and studying the Church customs, traditions, and doctrine. Participants also participate in worship services and various Church rituals.

Purification and Enlightenment

This is a six weeks period parallelling the season of Lent, of deep discernment in preparation for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil;  Candidates are called to continuing conversion.

          Rite of Election

Catechumens are sent from the parish to be Elected by the Archbishop to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil.

Sacraments of Initiation

At the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday evening), the Elect and the Candidates who have been journeying through the RCIA process are welcomed formally into the community of believers receiving the Sacraments of Initiation--Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Eucharist. 


This is a time of reflection and celebration after the formal reception into the Catholic Church. Mystagogia means “leading into the mystery” and it is a time to explore the deep mystery of our faith and go forth to help build the reign of God on Earth as new members of the faithful.


The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA, is a communal process for formal initiation of new members into the Catholic Church.

This process is a return to the formation of the earliest members of the Church in the first and second centuries.

If you would like to participate in RCIA or would like more information please contact      Jean Bussemeier at:  jbussemeier@iccabq.org


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