The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is “a way in which people can become full, active members of the Catholic Church in adulthood, according to RCIA’s website.
The program began at Seton Hall on Sunday, Sept. 17.
This program gives students the opportunity to join the Catholic community through baptism or continue strengthening their Catholic beliefs through the completion of the Rites of Initiation after baptism and beyond.
Noreen Shea, a campus minister and director of RCIA, explained that via email.
The RCIA process involves four steps.
“The first step is the Period of Inquiry,” she wrote. “During the period of inquiry, the emphasis is on asking questions about the Catholic faith. The second step is the rite of acceptance. During the rite of acceptance, the emphasis is on understanding the church’s teachings and Catholic practices. The third step is the rite of election. The rite of election takes place in the holy season of Lent and it is an intense and immediate preparation to receive the sacraments of initiation. The fourth step is initiation and Mystagogia.”
According to Shea, the sacraments of initiation are Baptism, Communion, and Confirmation which occur during the Easter season.
“It is always an occasion of great joy for the candidates and their families and friends,” Shea said.
Each year many students are encouraged to take part in this spiritual journey while participating in various events on campus.
“Students often say that it was during a service trip or at a Bible study or retreat that they felt inspired to learn more about the Catholic Church and become Catholic,” Shea said.
The program also helps students balance their requirements for the program with their schoolwork.
Natalie Douris, a senior social work major, she said in an email.
“The RCIA process at Seton Hall is more than manageable while still having a full course load.”
“The process consists of a two hour meeting every Sunday night, and one field trip and retreat day per semester. The Sunday meetings are perfectly timed so that you can attend the 8 p.m. Mass on campus after the meeting. For me, the process was very exciting because I was learning more than I ever had about Catholicism, while growing deeper in my faith.”
Evan Robinson, a sophomore art history major, said that she had always meant to be confirmed and have her first holy communion, but just never had the time in high school.
“When I heard of RCIA last year, I knew I finally had the chance to go do it all while having endless amounts of support throughout the process,” Robinson said.
In addition, Robinson discussed the support she received from the Seton Hall community during the process.
“All of campus ministry was extremely helpful and supportive during my yearlong endeavor and I cannot thank Noreen Shea enough for all of the help and different opportunities she gave to me and the other students involved in RCIA,” she said.
Douris said that college was the right time to continue her spiritual journey.
“Being confirmed never crossed my mind before I began studying at Seton Hall,” she said.
She added how she was brought to being confirmed through the program.
“Before my first year in college, religion and God, unfortunately, were never on my mind. By His graces, he brought me to a Catholic university where I could not help but think more about God and prayer,” she said.
Douris also said that during her sophomore year was when she began volunteering through DOVE, thus helping her in her journey of faith.
“This is when I decided, that from that point forward, I needed to make God the center of my life,” she said, “And I have never been happier.”
Rhania Kamel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.