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Shouldn’t there be more than this?

November 1, 2009

I was a catechist for today’s mass, this time for the children, but neither showed up today for various reasons. So I sat in the adult session. It went well, the other catechist handled the session well for both the readings and the Feast of All Saints.

Towards the end the RCIA director came in to see how things were going. She said I haven’t seen you guys in a few weeks. My jaw just about dropped! All this time I thought the Breaking Open the Word sessions were supplementary to the “main” RCIA classes. Not so. I’m just flabbergasted. Shouldn’t RCIA be more than just breaking open the word?

I talked with the other catechist about this some. She already knew this and she has been struggling with it. She and I are on the same page it seems. Please join us in prayer to find a way to provide the best catechesis we can for our candidates and catechumens. I need to think over this revelation for a while.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. November 2, 2009 1:38 pm

    “Shouldn’t RCIA be more than just breaking open the word?”

    Oh my, yes. At best, discussing the week’s readings is a good supplement to an organized presentation of the Catholic faith which would be taking place at another time. When I was teaching RCIA we only covered the week’s readings if they applied directly to the classroom subject. Otherwise time was spent on what I’d call Catholic instruction.

    But if your parish’s resources are stretched thin (which is very typical), then at least for this year doing what you are doing now is all you can count on.

    Sometimes great things start from a mustard seed, and you cannot get discouraged.

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 2, 2009 11:13 pm

      i am mainly concerned for the formation of our catechumens and candidates. aren’t they getting “cheated”? they are taking a big step in their lives. is reflection on the sunday readings enough for them to make an informed decision on their faith life?

      • November 3, 2009 11:50 am

        I’d say YESBUT.

        YES, your observations are absolutely right.

        BUT there may not be anyone in the parish who can run a series of structured RCIA classes this year.

        Between you and the other catechist and the director, maybe something can happen. If not, consider preparing yourself this year for teaching RCIA next year as you think it should be done.

        Important things often remain undone in parishes until one motivated, scared person decides to act. Take the long view: this year you spend preparing to teach RCIA next year. That’s a ton of time. Next year is a learning experience, but you prepared, and you’ll feel great once that first year is behind you. From then on it’s just a matter of refinement, and you’ll be making a real difference in the lives of catechumens.

  2. November 3, 2009 1:09 pm

    You are absolutely right that the RCIA should consist of more than the Breaking Open of the Word. In addition to reflecting on the Gospel message and becoming part of the Sunday assembly, the catechumens need thorough catechesis as well as opportunities for prayer and doing works of service and charity. I encourage you to continue praying on this and finding a way to help the RCIA process in your parish to grow and flourish.

  3. catholicwideweb permalink*
    November 3, 2009 2:06 pm

    i’m thinking about offering Fr. John Riccardo’s RCIA podcasts to the catechumens. he is an excellent teacher and he has already made his lessons available to all. right now, i am trying to decide if i should just provide the website or put the files on a CD for the class, that way they can just listen to it in their car while they are on the go. i just feel so bad for this group of catechumens. they are mostly uncatechized, and i’m not sure how much study they have done on their own. as a BOW catechist, am i allowed to ask what they have done for themselves in the way of developing their faith? i got the impression of no, but i’m not sure why that would be a bad thing. thanks for all of the comments, they have been helpful.

  4. November 4, 2009 3:58 pm

    “I’m not sure how much study they have done on their own. As a BOW catechist, am I allowed to ask what they have done for themselves in the way of developing their faith?”

    Maybe you could do this: near the end of your next class, ask them to think during the week about what things in particular they’d like to know as part of becoming Catholic, to write those things down, and give you the papers at the next class meeting.

    Then you could cull through their questions, and provide some answers over the rest of the year.

    Places online such as Catholic Answers:

    and John Martignoni :

    will have short, prepared answers to typical questions such as:

    Why do I have to confess to a priest?

    Isn’t communion just symbolic?

    Why do Catholics pray to Mary & Saints?

    You may be able to manage your first year of informal RCIA simply by referring to these and other Catholic websites.

  5. November 11, 2009 9:18 pm

    Christian’s idea is a good one. I feel really awful for this group. Although people complain a lot that RCIA doesn’t cover much, this group gets next to nothing! If this parish doesn’t have the real resources to find many catechists, could the parish priest be able to do some instruction, since fewer resources would in turn mean fewer demands? How did this happen? I will definitely pray, and encourage you to do what you can to be available to answer questions.

    • catholicwideweb permalink*
      November 11, 2009 11:03 pm

      i don’t know how this happened. but i am formulating some additional materials to give the group. i just hope they take it an run with it….

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