Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) 

What is the RCIA?

What is the RCIC?

Who is the RCIA for?

What are the different stages of the RCIA?

When are the classes/sessions held?

Are you interested in joining the Catholic Church?

Are you a Catholic who has been baptized and received first Eucharist, but has never been confirmed?

What is the RCIA?

The process for joining the Church is called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This process provides time either to begin one's faith journey or to reflect on one's continuing faith life. During the RCIA process, one seeks to develop a deeper relationship with God through Christ Jesus, within the Catholic faith tradition. The RCIA process does not ask those who have been baptized in another faith tradition to give up their previous faith experience.

What is the RCIC?

The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the norm for initiation of all adults; it applies also to children of catechetical age. Unbaptized children over the age of reason (approximately age seven) who desire to become Catholic participate in a modified initiation process which leads them to the celebration of the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The RCIA process is adapted to meet the specific needs of children and youth.

Who is the RCIA for?

The RCIA process is for:

  • those who have never been baptized
  • those who have been baptized but have had little or no faith formation
  • those who have been baptized and have had faith formation in another religious tradition
  • those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church but have not celebrated Eucharist and Confirmation.

What are the different stages in the RCIA?

This process of formation includes four stages, as well as rituals that mark these stages:


Inquirers are invited to join with others who are interested in becoming Catholic. Inquirers have the opportunity to ask questions about the Church and to hear about the message of Jesus and how it is lived out in the Catholic Church.

First Step: The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens 

This is the liturgical rite marking the beginning of the catechumenate stage. The candidates express their intention to respond to God's call to follow the way of Christ.

Formal Instruction – Catechumenate

If, after the initial period of questioning, one decides to continue in the process, one enters the period of the catechumenate, which includes formal instruction on a weekly basis about the Catholic faith, participation in public and private prayer, and participation in the work of the Church for justice and peace. During this time, each catechumen is paired with a sponsor who serves as a spiritual companion and offers support and encouragement.

Second Step: Rite of Election

This is the liturgical rite, celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent, in which the catechumens state their intention publicly to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.  

Purification & Enlightenment

This 40-day period coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. It is a time of reflection, intensely centered on conversion, marked by the celebration of the scrutinies.

Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation/Reception into the Church

The final step is the Easter Vigil and the reception of the sacraments of initiation for full communion in the Catholic Church. For those who have not been baptized in any other Christian tradition, this means celebrating Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. Those who are already baptized in another Christian tradition receive the Eucharist for the first time, as well as Confirmation.


After initiation, new members of the faith community enter into a period of reflection on the sacraments and are integrated into the life and mission of the Church. This period of time called mystagogy. Through worship, teaching, and various activities with other members of the parish community, those who have been baptized and received into full communion are helped to understand their new experience of God's presence in their lives and to recognize and appropriate the many new graces God is giving them. New members of the Church then focus on their new life of grace, finding the gifts and means best suited to them individually to live the Christian life of service to others

From the beginning of the process to the very end, each new person has a sponsor, a member of the Catholic Church who walks with them and helps them in any way during their journey. The role of the sponsor is a very special and important one, and the bonds formed between sponsor and candidate are strong and lasting.

Are you interested in joining the Catholic Church?

Anyone who is interested in joining the Catholic Church can inquire at any time throughout the year. Special inquiry sessions are held in September/October. Formal instruction and classes begin in October and continue until the Easter Vigil, when the rites of initiation into the Catholic Church are celebrated.

If you've been considering joining the Catholic Church, continue to pray for God's guidance and support, and consider RCIA as a way to discern God's call in your life. A community of learners and seekers is a great way to complement your prayer life in discerning God's path for you. Not everyone who enters into the RCIA process ultimately decides to join the Catholic Church, but everyone who participates in the process agrees that it is immensely helpful in discerning God's will for them and in learning more about the Catholic faith. 

Are you a Catholic who has been baptized and received first Eucharist, but has never been confirmed?

Some adult Catholics have been baptized and received their first Eucharist, and have had religious education, but for various reasons never received the Sacrament of Confirmation. There is a city-wide Adult Confirmation Program that is offered during the Lenten season (typically in February/March) for such adults in the Dubuque community.