Periods And Rituals of the RCIA Process

Pre-Catechumenate or Inquiry

A time for you to ask questions about the Catholic Faith. This is also a time of discernment to determine if becoming Catholic is right for you. During this time people inquiring into the faith are called inquirers.

Rite of Acceptance/Welcoming

This is the first step in the process of becoming Catholic. This ceremony takes place at one of the masses. The inquirers publicly declare their intention to continue their journey of faith toward full initiation in the Catholic Church. The entire community, represented by the sponsors and the assembly, offers its support and witness to you. At this rite, individuals go from being inquirers to being catechumens (people who are unbaptized) or candidates (people already baptized).

Period of the Catechumenate or Candidacy

This period is an extended period of formation. This period is like an internship. This is the time when you learn what it means to live and work as a Catholic. There is no definite time line. Candidates and Catechumens attend mass, dismissals, weekly academic sessions and experience community service as well as walk with ministers within the Church. This experience is intended to build up your relationship with Jesus and His Church. 

Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion

After extended discernment, and formation, the community can give witness to God’s election and call of the catechumens as well as determine readiness for the candidates. This election/call is not about your choosing to be Catholic and experiencing the sacraments of initiation but about God choosing you.

Period of Purification and Enlightenment

This period begins after the Rite of Election/Call to Continuing Conversion. The tone of the period of preparation shifts to one similar to a retreat. It is a period of prayerful and spiritual reflection in preparation for receiving the sacraments of initiation.

Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation

For those experiencing RCIA, the sacrament of baptism is celebrated at the Easter Vigil. Also Confirmation and First Eucharist are celebrated most often at Easter Vigil. These sacraments are what bring you fully into the Catholic community.


This is a reflection on the mysteries and experiences of the RCIA process. This formal period of reflection and prayer continues for several weeks during the Easter season. This is a time of transition and assistance in answering the question, "What Now?" We will primarily focus on the effects of the most blessed Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist, on your life and what God is calling you to do as a Christian.

Helpful Definitions


Candidates and Catechumens celebrate the first part of a Sunday mass with the community in what is called the liturgy of the Word. After the homily (preaching), they are dismissed to further discuss the bible readings presented in the mass. During dismissal you will learn about the historical and cultural context as well as the spiritual meaning of the readings from a Catholic perspective. You will also see how the readings apply to our everyday lives.


A person who expresses an interest in learning more about the Catholic faith.


A person who has not been baptized


A person who has been baptized into the Christian tradition, but not yet initiated as a Catholic


A newly initiated Catholic