THE RCIA JOURNEY
1. The first phase in the RCIA Faith Formation is one of inquiry. It is a time for an individual to inquire specifically about the Catholic church. It has no fixed duration of time or structure. At some point after inquiry however, an individual will need to make a decision whether to continue his/her pursuit of membership in the Catholic Church. A public ritual is celebrated.
For those who have never been baptized, this ritual is called: "Rite of Acceptance in the Order of Catechumens" or for those baptized: the "Rite of Welcoming Candidates." Simply stated, a catechumen is a person who has been welcomed into the church but has not yet been baptized. A candidate is a person who has been baptized but seeks full initiation in the Catholic Church.
2. After either the "Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens" or "Rite of Welcoming Candidates," an individual continues her/her formation in both gospel values and traditions of the Church, known as the catechumenate. The next major event of one's journey to full initiation coincides with the beginning of Lent. "The Rite of Election" is celebrated for those who have never been baptized at the Church. The Rite of Election is at the St. aul Cathedral with the Bishop presiding.
Concerning the Rite of Election, the Church states: At this second phase, on the basis of the testimony of godparents, catechists, and sponsors, the Church discerns their state of readiness and decides on their advancement toward the sacraments of initiation. This phrase is called election because the acceptance made by the Church is founded on the election by God, in whose name the Church acts.
3. The third phase in the Christian initiation of adults is the celebration of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.
4. Finally, those who have been fully initiated into the Church participate in mystagogy. Mystagogy is a term which means to initiate into the mysteries of a religious faith. Thus it is a time to be introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of the mysteries received through the Gospel and the experience of the sacraments.
A JOURNEY IN FAITH
Baptism incorporates us into Christ and forms us into God's people. This first sacrament pardons all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness, and brings us to the dignity of adopted children, a new creation through water and the Holy Spirit. Hence we are called and are indeed children of God.
By signing us with the gift of the Spirit, Confirmation makes us more completely the image of the Lord and fills us with the Holy spirit, so that we may bear witness to him before all the world and work to bring the Body of Christ to its fullness as soon as possible.
Finally, coming to the table of the Eucharist, we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Son of Man so that we may have eternal life and show forth the unity of God's people. By offering ourselves with Christ, we share in the universal sacrifice - that is, the entire community of the redeemed offered to God by their High Priest - and we pray for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that the whole human race may be brought into the unity of God's family.
Thus the three sacraments of Christian initiation closely combine to bring us, the faithful of Christ, to his full stature and to enable us to carry out the mission of the entire people of God to the Church and to the world.
-Christian Initiation, General Introduction #2