Details of the RCIA journey:
RCIA is a personal journey of conversion. Since everyone inquires at an individual level, some people need more time than others to prepare for the lifetime commitment that comes with membership in the Catholic Church. The process of spiritual renewal and learning should not be hasty. For those seeking baptism, the RCIA takes at least a year, and for those baptized Christians seeking full communion with the Catholic Church, the process usually takes less time.
PERIOD OF THE PRE-CATECHUMENATE (INQUIRY): This is the time when one asks all one ever wanted to know about the Church. It is a time for evangelization. The inquirers learn more about Jesus, reflect on their own lives in light of the Gospel message, and deepen their relationship with Him. Even those who already believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can hear the message afresh and move to deeper conversion of mind and heart. Some choose not to go any further, most continue on. This period ends with the Rite of Acceptance (and Welcoming) into the Order of Catechumens.
PERIOD OF THE CATECHUMENATE: During this time, much of the teaching takes place. The involvement of a sponsor and members of the parish are very important. Through them, the catechumens experience the Church as a community of believers. They come to know the tremendous love and convincing power of God in their lives and in the life of the community. Persons may remain catechumens for a time span lasting from a few months to a number of years.
PERIOD OF PURIFICATION AND ENLIGHTENMENT: Occurring during the penitential time of Lent, this period is a time of reflecting together on Scripture, the Church's practices of faith (Creed) and prayer, and observing traditions of fasting and works of charity. Catechumens who will be celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation are given a formal invitation at the Rite of Election, presided by the bishop. Those already baptized seeking full communion with the Catholic Church are given special attention through the Call to Continuing Conversion.
THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist are celebrated at the Easter Vigil. The water of Baptism gives birth to the new person in Christ. Anointing with Chrism seals the newly baptized with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Participation at the table of the Lord with the community represents full membership with the Church.
PERIOD OF MYSTAGOGY (POST-BAPTISMAL CATECHESIS): The period of the 50 days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost completes Initiation. It is time for the neophytes (young plants) to find their home in the community and consider how they will share in the mission of the Church through Christian service, while penetrating the deeper meaning of the Easter Sacraments. This stage is a reminder to everyone that the process of spiritual growth is not complete with the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. It is a lifelong task!