Welcome to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults!
If you are an adult, 18 years of age or older and need any of the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Communion, we can assist you with this process. This process is called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) and is designed to help you discern whether or not you are ready to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. This process is patterned after the ancient practice of the Early Christian Church of the Fourth Century when Catechumens (those desiring to be baptized) journeyed through the process that would lead them to receive all three Sacraments together at the end of their journey.
The RCIA distinguishes between several groups:
- A Catechumen: A person desiring all three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist.
- A Candidate for Confirmation and Eucharist: A person already baptized either in the Catholic Church or a Christian denomination whose baptism is valid and desires to either receive Confirmation and Eucharist or wishes to be received into the Catholic Church and receive Confirmation and Eucharist.
- A Candidate for Confirmation only: A person already baptized and have received Eucharist but needs to complete the Sacrament of Confirmation to complete his/her Initiation.
- A Candidate for Communion only: A person already baptized and has received Confirmation but never completed the process to receive Holy Communion.
While the process is designed primarily for the Catechumens and Candidates for Confirmation and Eucharist, we welcome all these groups. However, Candidates for Communion only or Confirmation Only do not qualify to participate in the rituals of the RCIA but certainly can support those who are on the journey.
Auditors are those who have received all the Sacraments of Initiation and just want to deeper their knowledge of the faith are also most welcome!
The first step is to complete the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults application which conveniently can be done online or on hard copy. For those participants already baptized either in the Catholic Church or a Christian denomination, need to provide on the date of their interview a copy of their baptismal certificate which can be obtained from the baptizing church. Please start making the arrangements to obtain a copy of their baptismal certificate as soon as possible as in some cases, it can take quite some time. If you don't know how to obtain your baptismal certificate, please contact the Parish Office at (305) 751-0005 for assistance.
Once we have your application, the Coordinator or Priest will contact you and arrange for an interview to assess where you are in the journey.
Some Criteria To Consider
Some participants entering into the process and who are married civilly or living together need to understand that the RCIA is a process of conversion, discipleship, and learning. One big step that will be asked is to enter into the Sacrament of Marriage at the end of the process. We can assist in preparing you for this big step. The Priest will discuss this matter with you at the interview.
Participants must demonstrate conversion and their life of faith in Christ. It is important if you haven't done so already to register with St. Martha Church and attend Sunday Mass. Participants not attending Mass regularly risk the possibility of having their process delayed.
Participants needing the Sacraments of Baptism and/or Confirmation will need at least one Sponsor who qualifies for the program.
The qualifications according to Church Law is as follows:
- At least 16 years of age
- Is fully initiated in the Catholic Church and practicing their faith. He/she must be baptized, Confirmed, and done Holy Communion.
- Lives an exemplary life by attending Church regularly, involved in a parish ministry, or at least shows exemplary living according to the Christian way.
- If married, must be married in the Catholic Church and not just civilly.
Sponsors who have been chosen but who belong to other parishes, will be required to submit to the Parish Office a permission letter from their Church authorizing to serve as Sponsor at St. Martha. They must contact their parish church for this letter. Sponsors will be required to attend a brief seminar on the importance of their duties. The date for this class will be announced by the Coordinator. All Sponsors will be interviewed and approved by the Pastor.
In cases where a participant cannot find a suitable Sponsor, we will be happy to assist and provide a Sponsor for you.
All participants will attend an Open House. The date for this event will be announced at the Masses and online. This is the moment to complete an application for RCIA and/or drop off the application and be ready for an on the spot interview.
There are several phases and rites that participants needing Baptism and/or Confirmation and Eucharist need to be present for:
- Period of Inquiry. This is the period where participants are free to ask questions about the Catholic Church, her beliefs, and structures. Topics covered includes faith, Mary, the Saints, Tour of the Church, the Laity, the Bible, etc… At the end of the process, those meeting certain criteria will be admitted to the Period of the Catechumenate.
- Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate. This is the first rite and is usually celebrated on the First Sunday of Advent. Sponsors and Candidates for Baptism and/or Confirmation and Eucharist need to be present. This beautiful rite done in the presence of the parish community marks the first step and commitment to complete the journey with the help and support of the community.
- Period of the Catechumenate. The Word of God is celebrated during this phase and the Catechumens receive anointing and prayers. Topics covered in this period include the Sacraments, Jesus Christ, Morality, the Liturgy, Social Justice…etc. At the end of the process, those meeting the criteria will be admitted to celebrate the Rite of Election.
- Rite of Election. This rite is celebrated with a Parish Sendoff and then all the Catechumens will journey to the Cathedral of St. Mary where the Archbishop will receive all the Catechumens and officially accept for the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation.
- Period of Purification and Enlightenment. This period is a time of reflection and prayer. The meetings take an air of attending a retreat and the candidates are called to reflect on their sinfulness and make a commitment to leave sin behind as their minds are enlightened and purified. Topics include the meaning of Lent, the Scrutinies, the Way of the Cross. Catechumens along with their Sponsors are eligible to receive the Scrutinies prayers on the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Sundays of Lent. At the end of this process, those meeting the criteria will be admitted to the Sacraments at the Easter Vigil or at a designated time at the Cathedral of St. Mary.
- Reception of the Sacraments. Candidates needing Baptism will be baptized at the Parish Easter Vigil service. Sponsors must be present. Those Candidates needing Confirmation and Eucharist will receive them at the Archbishop's request at the Cathedral Church of St. Mary.
- Period of Mystagogy. Once the candidates have received all their sacraments, for the next 6 to 8 weeks of the process, the newly baptized and Confirmed will understand how to now place their faith into action. Topics included will be Prayer, Discernment, discovering one's gifts and talents, Evangelization, etc.. at the end of this process the certificates of the sacraments will be distributed.
Fr. Wilfredo Contreras
When Do The Sessions Begin?
St. Martha RCIA process usually begins in mid August with an Open House which is a day of information. In the Open House, a brief video of the RCIA process is presented followed by explanation of the process and the requirements. The Pastor or the Coordinator will then interview the candidates and answer any questions. The sessions begin in early September and end either in May or June. If attending St. Martha Church, be attentive to the announcements as to when the sessions will begin as well as the Parish Bulletin which is distributed by the entrance to the Church. You may wish to sign up for the Parish Newsletter by going to "Subscibe" link found in the home page of our website.
At times, we have candidates who wish to enter the process after the sessions have begun. We can take these persons provided they commit to certain criteria. If you are in this situation, please send an email to the Pastor Fr. Wilfredo Contreras at email@example.com.
Participants must attend all sessions in order to receive the Sacraments of Initiation. Candidates missing more than five sessions will be dismissed from the class. Those with excused absences must make up the missed class by completing a questionnaire for the class missed and receiving an acceptable grade. If a participant will be missing class, they should contact the Parish Office at (305) 751-0005 and notify the Secretary or email the Pastor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants should be attending or at least start attending Sunday Mass each week as a sign of their commitment to God.
As one grows in the process, we hope that participants consider getting involved in several of the Parish Ministries such as Men's and Women's Emmaus Ministry, Lifeteen Youth Ministry, Parish Evangelization Program, Centering Prayer Group, Knights of Columbus (men only), Men's Club, Women's Club, etc…