Undergoing the RCIA course

For those of us not baptised as children, joining the Catholic Church involves attending the RCIA course. This culminates in baptism, confirmation and first Communion. These three sacraments are bestowed at the Easter Vigil service each year, and not at other times, as the Easter service is the time for all to reflect on their baptismal promises.

Life bloodI attended the RCIA course at Our Lady of Lourdes which started in September 2006 and continued until Pentecost in May 2007. Each week after the 9.45am Sunday service a class was held, lasting up to an hour, in which we considered some aspect of the faith, for instance each of the sacraments, prayer, Mary, the creation.

This year two of us completed the course, Lucie and me. Also attending were Phil, Doff, Jan, Auxilia, and Ossie, acting as sponsors and support, and Aileen who led the classes. Father Tom and Father Damian also led on a few occasions.

My reasons for deciding to be baptised originated about three years ago, when I started to attend a Methodist church regularly. Some years before that I had attended a Baptist church, but I never considered myself attached to any denomination. As I had not been baptised, I was contemplating finding out more about the process in the Methodist church, including the significance of baptism. Then I met Greg, to whom I have recently been married. He was already a member of the congregation at Our Lady of Lourdes, and it made sense for us both to attend the same church, especially after I moved to Southgate. About a year ago I registered for the course, and have now nearly completed it.

The course was largely about the aspects of Christianity that are of importance to Catholicism, rather than to Christianity in general. In the classes, having first looked at some scriptural references to the subject in question, we could discuss it or ask questions. At the end of each session, we were given a handout, designed specially for RCIA classes, which explained concisely though comprehensively the issues, including the tricky areas where there is scope for interpretation. Of course, we were welcome to supplement the classes with our own reading.

Besides the classes, Lucie and I participated in various services. In December we were officially welcomed into the church after a period of enquiry. At this we received a copy of the Compendium of the Catechism, which is a useful reference (and available in the papershop!)

In February, at the start of Lent, we went to Westminster Cathedral for the Rite of Election. At this service, all the adult baptism and confirmation candidates from the diocese were welcomed by Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, and were invited to individually meet one of the bishops.

During three Sundays in Lent, in services known as the Scrutinies, we were invited to reflect on our journey so far.

The culmination of the course was, of course, the Easter Vigil. During the packed service, we were baptised, confirmed, and took our first communion. It was a special service for us, as everything had been leading to it, and it was very atmospheric with only candles for lighting at the beginning, and so many people.

Afterwards, there was a reception in the hall, with a wonderful buffet and cake iced with the words “Congratulations. RCIA 2007”. So many people came up to me to welcome me and shake my hand, many of whom I didn’t know, which was very special and moving. I was, and still am, very impressed by the warmth of the people at the church at all times.

I am also of course grateful to all those who gave up so much time to run and contribute to the classes, especially Aileen.

And if you know of anyone who is considering becoming a Catholic, tell them that the classes are a good introduction to Catholicism, whatever their level of knowledge, and a good way to become involved in the church community.

More information on the RCIA (albeit from an American perspective) can be found here .