All are welcome to worship together at St. Francis of Assisi. When there is a desire to seek sacramental initiation to become fully participating members of the Catholic Church, there are different paths available.
Read on for more information.
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the spiritual journey through which adults become full, active, participating members of the Catholic Church. During this RCIA process, those interested in becoming Catholic attend weekly meetings where the team helps them to grow in their relationship with God, become familiar with Catholic teachings and practices, get acquainted with people in the parish, and get involved in service within the parish. RCIA team members serve as sponsors and catechists.
There are four phases of the RCIA process beginning with the period of inquiry when the person contacts the Catholic parish and begins to meet with other adults who are also inquiring about the Catholic faith. With the members of the RCIA team, these adults tell their own stories and relate them to faith stories found in scripture.
When the inquirers become firm in their desire for initiation and decide to continue the journey, they are admitted into the next phase through a special ceremony called the Rite of Acceptance. In this ritual, these men and women are signed with the cross, as the Church symbolically claims them for Christ. This is the first time that the inquirers publicly declare their faith before the parish community. They are accompanied by a sponsor for the team as well as by a Catholic of their choosing. These sponsors provide support and companionship for the rest of the RCIA process. In addition to the weekly meetings, inquirers attend Mass each Sunday.
When the catechumens (not baptized) or candidates(baptized in another denomination) discern, with the help of their sponsors and team, that God is calling them to receive the sacraments of initiation at the next Easter Vigil, they are called to the sacraments by the Bishop or someone designated by him. These sacraments are Baptism (for Catechumens), Confirmation, and First Eucharist. The Rite of Election is most often celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent.
The catechumens and candidates are now called the Elect. The weeks of Lent are a time of intense prayer as they prepare themselves to celebrate the resurrection of the Lord at Easter and to receive the sacrament of initiation. On three Sundays in Lent before the Rite of Dismissal, the elected are prayed for in a special way to help them prepare more fully for the sacraments.
The Easter Vigil is the Great Night. The parish assembles for the primary celebration of the Lord’s resurrection, and this night is, therefore, the most appropriate occasion for the elect to celebrate their Baptism (for catechumens) Confirmation, and First Eucharist. The church has always recognized that in Baptism, we die to sin in Christ’s death, so that we may rise with him to new Life.
The newly initiated, now called “neophytes” are given the special opportunity to reflect on what God has done for them. This is also a time to discern how the grace of the Easter Sacraments is directing the new Catholic to serve others as Jesus did. The journey of faith lasts a lifetime. These weeks after Easter are special moments for new Catholics to seek out their place and ministry in our parish family.
Sacraments for Children
Baptized and unbaptized children and teens work through our Religious Education program to progress through their formation and receive appropriate sacraments. Their age and experience with catechesis will help our Director of Religious Education to place them on the right path. Contact Marianne Hayes.
Sacraments for Adults
Sacraments for Adults
Baptized and unbaptized adults (18 years old and above) are catechized through RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) and may receive the appropriate Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation) at the Easter Vigil.
Contact Sheila Noble
Baptized adults who have received First Eucharist, but were never confirmed, may seek the Sacrament of Confirmation by taking special Confirmation for Adults classes offered once per week, on Tuesdays (dates TBD). The course will last 6 weeks. Students will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation through the Diocese of Arlington in May or June of 2021 (date to be announced.)
Contact Sheila Noble
“From the awareness of stirring of faith and curiosity within one’s heart,
through all those stages of asking and seeking,
through beginning involvement with Roman Catholic people,
through hearing the Gospel proclaimed and by faithful reflection and prayer on this Word of God,
through study and discussion about the Catholic experience,
through doubts and hesitations,
through discernment of God’s call for them as individuals,
through the steps of commitment,
through the sacraments of initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist)
to a life of faith, love, and justice lived in communion with Catholics throughout the world.”