Rite of Christian Initiation for Children
What is the RCIA for children?
The RCIA for children is a process that invites any child age 7 to 14 interested in searching the Catholic Faith to discover what the Catholic Church teaches and believes. It is open to un-baptized children, children baptized in another faith, and children who may be baptized but who have not practiced their Catholic faith regularly. Like the RCIA for adults this process is accomplished in a comfortable, friendly and informal environment designed for children. Separate sessions of Catechesis (education) are presented in dialog format. Certain Rites are celebrated in the church and are combined with the Adults at the same Mass. In this parish most children begin the RCIA for children in the fall. Entry into the Church has historically been at Easter after about nine months or more of preparation but for some children, who are not yet ready, this process can take longer. Near the end of the process the Sacraments of Initiation Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist are celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
What is the process like?
The process has four periods much like that of the RCIA for adults. A team of Catechists (teachers) presents sessions of various content depending upon the period. These four periods are described below.
- The Precatecumenate (period 1)
is a time for inquiry and welcome. A child may examine the Church, its beliefs and practices, and relevancy to his or her own life. All questions will be answered during this period, as a participant feels secure and encouraged to ask them.
- The Catechumenate (period 2)
is a time for learning more about Church teaching supported by Scripture and Tradition. By nurturing faith in this way a child is lead to a "conversion of heart" and a commitment to become a follower of Christ within the Catholic Church.
- The Purification & Enlightenment (period 3 during Lent)
is a time of reflection and prayer and learning about the value of Sacraments particularly of Reconciliation and of receiving the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This period is completed by the reception of the Sacraments of Initiation (the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Eucharist).
- A final Mystagogy period (period 4)
is an important time to experience a deepening of faith and to an awakening to the spiritual gifts of the Spirit at Pentecost.
Is a sponsor needed?
Sponsors of these children have very important roles in this process. Sponsors and/or godparents should attend the sessions regularly with the children to help them engage in dialog with the catechist and each other. It is important that the child feel welcome, comfortable and secure with the freedom to enter into the dialog with the group. In addition, the sponsor participates with the child at all ritual celebrations including the rite of Welcome/Acceptance, the Rite of Sending, Rite of Election, and Rites of Initiation at Easter Vigil.
What are the sponsor qualifications?
To qualify as a sponsor or godparent a person must be an adult age 16 or over and must be a confirmed and practicing Catholic. Proof of these qualifications may be required. If the child has been baptized previously the parents who qualify may be sponsors of their children. However if the child has not been baptized previously then a qualified godparent (who must be other than the parent) is required in addition to the qualified sponsor parents. The parish will provide sponsors or godparents to children in certain circumstances if the situation merits.
What are the benefits of the RCIA for Children?
The RCIA for children has been adapted from the RCIA for adults and its formulation has been carefully worked out for children. The RCIA process is a powerful restoration by Vatican II of a practice first started by the early Church in the third century when many people were converting to Christianity during Constantine's rule. Since its re-establishment in the early 80's, the RCIA process has been successful in renewing the whole adult Church. It is hoped that through participation in the RCIA for children the children will be exposed to the Truth of the Catholic faith, be converted to Jesus, and be encouraged to participate more fully in the Church community. We pray that as Baptized and Confirmed Catholics they will be motivated to receive the Eucharist each week at Mass and to continue their religious education into the future so that they come to know love and serve God as practicing Catholic Adults.
If you have family members who are interested in the RCIA for children call the office.