Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Are you a non-Catholic interested in becoming a Catholic or just learning about the Catholic faith?
Are you a non-active Catholic seeking to re-connect with the Church?
Are you a Catholic who just wants to know more about our faith?

St. Mary's has an active and growing adult faith formation program and we are eager to share the reasons for the hope that is in us, (1 Peter 3:15). We meet Monday evenings at 7:30 in the Parish Center; please come by! Call Jane Kuklis at 781-545-3335 x212 or e-mail Bob O'Connell at [email protected] or Deacon Mattie Henry at [email protected] for more information. For a look at the class topics for this past season, and for more information about the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), please see below.


The letters "RCIA" stand for the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults", the document which guides the process by which adults are initiated into our Roman Catholic community. It is a process of formation which culminates in the reception of one (or more) of the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. At St. Mary’s, the RCIA process typically begins in the Fall and ends on the Feast of Pentecost.

The RCIA lays out a process in which men and women are guided and cared for as they awaken in faith and are gradually introduced to the Catholic way of life. The RCIA program is a series of carefully planned stages, marked at key points by liturgical rites in the presence of the whole community, in which new Catholics embark on and join us in a continuing and deepening conversion into faith and discipleship. We take the individual life history and spiritual needs of each person into account, differentiating as appropriate between the baptized and the unbaptized, the catechized and the uncatechized. The needs of mature, practicing Christians from other faith traditions are considered on an individual basis.

The RCIA is based on the "catechumenate" of the early Church. Becoming Christian in the early days of the Church involved a sharp break with the surrounding culture. New Christians entered into the joy of new life in Christ, but also entered into a way of living which demanded deep commitment and entailed great risks. In today's world, our faith also demands deep commitment – our beliefs and values often run counter to the values of our modern, aggressively secular culture. The Church revived the catechumenate in the RCIA because new believers in today’s world also need careful preparation and caring support as they enter into the mysteries of Christ and the commitment of Christian living.

The initiation process is divided into four stages: Inquiry, the Catechumenate (beginning each Fall), the Period of Purification & Enlightenment (during Lent), and (after Easter) the Mystagogia.


During the first period of the journey, called the Inquiry period, seekers ask hard questions about Christianity and receive truthful, life-sharing answers from Catholic Christians. This is a time of introduction to the gospel of Jesus Christ and of reflection on one's own life in the light of the values of the reign of God. It is an unstructured time of no fixed duration for questions and an opportunity for the beginnings of Catholic faith. Informal discussions during the inquiry period help the seekers link their personal life stories to the Good News as witnessed and lived by the Roman Catholic community. Persons interested in beginning the Inquiry should contact Jane Kuklis, Bob O’Connell, or a Priest or Deacon; we can answer questions, suggest some helpful reading materials, and provide guidance and support.


The word catechumenate means "time of serious study" and inquirers who become catechumens (those who have not been baptized), or candidates (baptized Christians who are not yet in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church) meet each Monday evening to learn about the Scripture readings for that week, as well as a comprehensive series of topics on the Catholic faith and culture. Our annual cycle of catechesis sessions begins each year in the Fall. See the complete schedule below.


The period of purification and enlightenment is a time of final preparation for initiation, and it coincides with the liturgical season of Lent. On the first Sunday of Lent, the candidates and catechumens participate with hundreds of others in the diocesan-wide Rite of Election at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. The period following is one of prayer and reflection for both catechumens, now known as the Elect, and candidates. On certain Sundays during Lent, the Elect will also experience special ceremonies at Sunday Masses, called scrutinies, which seal their break with evil in preparation for baptism.


The candidates and the Elect are initiated through the third and consummating rite of the RCIA process, the Sacraments of Initiation, at the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. On that night, when light drives out darkness, joyful sounds fill the silence, and we proclaim and renew our resurrection hope, the Elect culminate their long journey to initiation in the waters of Baptism. Then, with the candidates, the newly baptized are sealed with the oil of Confirmation and share the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist as full members of the Roman Catholic community. It is a night of great joy for the newly initiated and for the entire Parish!


Easter, however, is not the end of the process but a new beginning. Initiation begins the fourth period of the RCIA journey, the Mystagogia, which means "leading into the mysteries". The newly initiated continue meet regularly between Easter and Pentecost to explore and confirm the Easter experience. Mystagogia is the final stage of the RCIA process, but it is in turn the beginning of a pilgrimage of lifelong, continuous conversion in full communion with the Roman Catholic community of Christians.

Date   Topic  
Scripture I: History, Structure & Contents
Scripture II: Salvation History in the Old Testament
Scripture III: The New Testament; also Saints and Sainthood
Sacred Tradition I
Sacred Tradition II
The Liturgical Year; Advent; Tour of the Church
The Blessed Virgin Mary
Christmas - The Nativity and Infancy of our Lord
Catholic Prayer & Devotions
No Class
The Incarnation: Who is Jesus?
The Sacraments: Baptism
The Sacraments: Eucharist, Part 1 - The Real Presence
The Sacraments: Eucharist, Part 2 - The Mass
The Sacraments: Penance (Confession)
The Sacraments: Confirmation and Holy Orders
The Sacraments: Holy Orders, continued; The Papacy
The Sacaraments: Matrimony; Catholic Family Life
The Sacraments: Anointing of the Sick; the Catholic Funeral
The Four Last Things
Meaning of Lent; Lenten & Easter Traditions & Devotions
Faith vs. Good Works; Catholic Social Teachings
The Blessed Trinity
The Passion, Death & Resurrection of the Lord Explained
No Class (Easter Monday)
Reflections on the Easter Vigil