What is RCIA?
The Rite of Christian Iniation for Adults (RCIA) is a program that introduces non- or unconfirmed Catholics to the beliefs and structure of the Catholic Church. Its goal is to to help individuals determine whether they wish to convert to Catholicism and if so, provide sufficient instruction so that they understand the dogma and doctrine of the faith.
RCIA begins with an inquiry phase, where questions are answered in sufficient depth for individuals to determine whether they want to convert . For those who do, RCIA continues with another four to six months of formal instruction and discussion. Individuals may leave the program at any time, or continue in the program for another cycle.
RCIA normally begins in late summer or fall and concludes with confirmation at Easter. Some parishes operate a year-round program consisting of two cycles. The first concludes at Advent and the second at Easter. Candidates generally attend RCIA for six months prior to confirmation.
Although there is a prescribed course of study for RCIA, the structure and content can vary from parish to parish. Some of the more intense programs will require research papers; the more casual may do little more than conduct Bible study. Most programs provide guided instruction in the faith with selected readings and weekly discussions. It is nearly impossible to transfer from one church's RCIA program to another after you are formally accepted, so it is advisable to attend RCIA inquiry at more than one church to determine which is best for you.