(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)
"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20)
Each year during the Easter Vigil, tens of thousands are baptized into the Catholic Church in the United States (about 37,000 in 2019). In the Diocese of San Jose, covering Santa Clara County, the number is approximately 700.
While people can become Catholic at any time of the year, the Easter Vigil when the Church celebrates Christ rising is an appropriate time for adults and children over 7 years of age to be welcomed into the Catholic Church. They officially join the community of faith through the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. For those who were already baptized in other Christian denominations, they are received into full communion with the Catholic Church on this same sacred vigil.
Their celebration of the initiation sacraments is the culmination of a process of formation in the faith, starting with the inquiry (searching), the catechumenate (faith formation), the purification (immediate preparation for initiation), and the mystagogy (savoring new life in the Spirit).
This process, called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), was implemented by the Church after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). It was not a novel idea, rather it was a restoration of the ancient catechumenate for Christianizing pagans in the Roman Empire in the first three centuries following the era of the Apostles (Vatican II Constitution on the Liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," no. 64).
Through the RCIA, catechumens (who were never baptized) and candidates (who were already baptized in other denominations) are accompanied in their journey of faith by a team, their sponsors, and the Catholic community through catechesis, group discussion, scriptural reflections, rituals.
It outlines the steps for the formation of catechumens, bringing their conversion to the faith to a greater maturity. It helps them respond more deeply to God's gracious initiative in their lives and prepares them for union with the Church community. This process is meant to form them into the fullness of the Christian life and to become disciples of Jesus, their teacher (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults).
(More details to follow...)