FOR THE JOURNEY
Welcome New Catholics
RITE OF CHRISTIAN INITIATION OF ADULTS (RCIA)
The Church exists to regenerate itself by constantly bringing people into the unity of Christ. Our primary purpose as baptized children of God is to bring other people to faith in the living Christ. It is not Father Brad’s job, it is not Father John’s job, and it is not even the Pope’s job except in their role as a baptized Christians. Paragraph nine of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults tells us that the responsibility for baptism belongs to all the baptized. That means all of us.
Just exactly how am I called as a member of St. John’s parish to bring new Christians into the Church? Should I stand on a soapbox on a street corner shouting invitations to every disinterested person who passes by? Absolutely not—those who take that approach “have no skin in the game” as the saying goes. There is no investment.
Pope Francis tells us that we must take on the smell of sheep—that is—we are to go beyond our comfort zone and be daring enough to share our lives and our faith with those in our world—people we meet, neighbors, co-workers, friends and family.
Catholicism is a religion of attraction. The single most significant factor in the spread of Christianity can be explained by the phrase—“see how they love one another”. In these difficult times people hunger to move beyond the division and animosity that seems to rule the day. Christianity has the antidote to the cynicism of our culture. Pope Francis tells us that we need to be intentional about sharing our faith.
There are three things we can do to bring people who have little faith or come from other faith traditions but are seeking deeper meaning in their lives to our process of initiation and thus into our parish family.
First, live our faith. St Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and if you must, use words”. If we hope to attract people to our Catholic faith our lives must reflect the peace, joy and love of others evident in the lives of committed disciples.
Second, intentionally witness our faith. Pope Francis tells us we must be intentional about witnessing our faith with our co-workers, neighbors, friends and family. When we witness to God’s action in our lives we open the door for others to share their own search for meaning.
Third, intentionally invite people to come and see. Pope Francis also tells us that not only are we to go out and gather the sheep, but to bring them home as well. We are to invite them to “come and see,” just like Jesus invited Andrew and Simon to join his fledgling community. Not only should we invite them to come to our parish, but we should take the initiative to introduce them to our pastoral team, the people responsible for the process that initiates them into our Church.
Our youth are living examples of this. They repeatedly share the good things happening in our youth and faith formation programs with friends from school. They share their faith, invite them to come and they walk with them as they begin their journey into our Church—a journey that often results in the initiation of the entire family. We have much to learn from our teens. The challenge for each of us is this—be bold! Go out and dare to share the good news of our Catholic faith and be courageous enough to bring them with you to Mass. Let us know who they are so we can reach out to them and invite them into our RCIA process
Please contact Bob Birmingham at 321-637-9650 or by email at [email protected] for information.