Our Lady Queen of Heaven Roman Catholic Church
While the Catholic Church is the largest religion in the world, it is sometimes also the most misunderstood.
The beliefs of the Catholic Church and her beautiful teachings are consistent through the ages.
- We believe that human beings were created by God in love and that everything God creates is good and created out of love. While we have the capacity for sin, the Church believes in the dignity of the human person above all else.
- We also believe that goodness infuses all of God’s wondrous creation. All creation, made by God, reflects that goodness. Catholics see the world and its beauty, renewed by the Incarnation, as sacramental – speaking of God’s goodness and love.
- We believe in stewardship. Everything is given to us by God and our Catholic responsibility is to share our time, talent and treasure with those around us.
- We believe in the Holy Trinity, that God has revealed himself to us as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – a communion of knowledge and love – has created us to share in that life.
- We believe in community and a living Church – believers are a part of the living Body of Christ and, as such, we are a reflection of the communal nature of the Trinity.
- We believe that God loved his creation so much that he became human in the person of Jesus to walk among us.
- We believe in the communion of the saints – models of faith who help us and guide us in our daily lives.
- We believe in Jesus’ crucifixion, death and resurrection, and we hope that one day we will rise to new life with him.
Becoming Catholic today means joining an ancient faith, deeply rooted in the teachings and traditions of Christ, that is filled with hope and vibrancy as we continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ to all the ends of the earth.
Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops describes the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults as a process in which participants "undergo…conversion as they study the Gospel, profess faith in Jesus and the Catholic Church, and receive the sacraments…The RCIA process follows the ancient practice of the Church and was restored by the Second Vatican Council as the normal way adults prepare for baptism."
Likewise, the language used in the RCIA process is that of the early Church formation programs. Catechumens are those people who are seeking full initiation into the Catholic Church through all of the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation. Candidates are people who have been baptized in a Christian tradition but are seeking initiation into the Catholic Church through Eucharist and Confirmation.
We offer RCIA sessions in English, Spanish and Creole. To register, please bring in the original certificate for all the sacraments you have received. If you have not been baptized, bring your original birth certificate. Print the Registration Form, complete and bring in with your certificate(s). Click HERE to print the Registration Form.
NOTE: Registration in RCIA does not register the family with Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church. If you would like to become a parishioner, please stop by the parish office.
What is RCIA?
Each year on Holy Saturday during the Easter Vigil, thousands of men and women are received into the Catholic Church in the United States. Parishes welcome these new members through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and at a liturgy bringing men and women into full communion with the Catholic Church. Listed below are some questions and answers about RCIA.
The RCIA Journey
Prior to beginning the RCIA process, an individual comes to some knowledge of Jesus Christ, considers his or her relationship with Jesus Christ and is usually attracted in some way to the Catholic Church. This period is known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. For some, this process involves a long period of searching; for others, a shorter time. Often, contact with people of faith and a personal faith experience lead people to inquire about the Catholic Church. After a conversation with a priest, or RCIA director, the person, known as an "inquirer," may seek acceptance into the Order of Catechumens, through the Rite of Acceptance. During this Rite, the inquirer stands amidst the parish community and states that he or she wants to become a baptized member of the Catholic Church. The parish assembly affirms this desire and the inquirer becomes a "catechumen."
The period of the catechumenate can last for as long as several years or for a shorter time. It depends on how the person is growing in faith, what questions they encounter along the way, and how God leads them on this journey. During this time, the catechumens consider what God is saying to them in the Scriptures, what changes in their life they need to make to respond to God's inspiration, and what Baptism in the Catholic Church means. When a catechumen and the priest and the parish team working with him or her believes the person is ready to make a faith commitment to Jesus in the Catholic Church, the next step is the request for baptism and the celebration of the Rite of Election. Even before the catechumens are baptized, they have a special relationship to the Church.
The Rite of Election includes the enrollment of names of all those seeking baptism at the coming Easter Vigil. Typically, on the first Sunday of Lent, the catechumens, their sponsors and families gather at the cathedral church. The catechumens publicly express their desire for baptism to the diocesan bishop. Their names are recorded in a book and they are called "the elect."
The days of Lent are the final period of purification and enlightenment leading up to the Easter Vigil. Lent is a period of preparation marked by prayer, study, and spiritual direction for the elect, and prayers for them by the parish communities. The Celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation takes place during the Easter Vigil Liturgy on Holy Saturday when the catechumen receives the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Now the person is fully initiated into the Catholic Church.
After the person is initiated, formation and education continue in the period of the post baptismal catechesis, which is called "mystagogy." This period continues at least until Pentecost. During the period the newly baptized members reflect on their experiences at the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and the teachings of the Catholic Church. In addition they reflect on how they will serve Christ and help in the Church's mission and outreach activities.
The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults is a process that proceeds over weeks and months. It has several steps:
This is the earliest phase in the process; it is also known as the Period of Inquiry. Catechumens and Candidates acknowledge that Christ is calling them into the Church through the movement of the Holy Spirit. This is a time for seeking and reflection.
Rite of Initiation
The first Rite in the RCIA process, the Rite of Initiation accepts new members into the worshipping community.
The longest part of the process, the Catechumenate is a time of learning and formation in the traditions and doctrine of the Catholic Church. This is a time for sharing stories, reading scripture, and studying the Church customs, traditions and doctrine. Participants also participate in worship services and various Church rituals.
Rite of Election
Catechumens and Candidates are chosen to be received by the bishop and the community and to receive the Sacraments of Initiation at Easter.
Sacraments of Initiation
At the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday), all newly elected members of the community who have been journeying through the RCIA process are welcomed formally into the community of believers through receiving the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation.
This is a time of reflection and celebration after the formal reception into the Catholic Church. Mystagogia means “leading into the mystery” and it is a time to explore the deep mystery of our faith and go forth to help build the reign of God on Earth as new members of the faithful.
What is meant when people refer to men and women coming into "full communion" with the Church?
Coming into full communion with the Catholic Church describes the process for entrance into the Catholic Church for men and women who are baptized Christians but not Roman Catholics. These individuals make a profession of faith but are not baptized again. To prepare for this reception, the people, who are called "candidates," usually participate in a formation program to help them understand and experience the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church. Some preparation may be with catechumens preparing for baptism, but the preparation for candidates is different since they have already been baptized and committed to Jesus Christ, and many have also been active members of other Christian communities.
What is the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday like?
The Easter Vigil takes place on Holy Saturday, the evening before Easter Sunday. This is the night that "shall be as bright as day" as proclaimed by an ancient church hymn as we joyfully anticipate Christ's Resurrection The Holy Saturday Liturgy begins with the Service of Light, which includes the blessing of the new fire and the Paschal candle which symbolizes Jesus, the light of the World. The second part consists of the Liturgy of the Word with a number of scripture readings. After the Liturgy of the Word, the catechumens and candidates are presented to the parish community, who pray for them and join in the Litany of the Saints. Next, the priest blesses the water, placing the Easter or Paschal candle into the baptismal water. Those seeking baptism then renounce sin and profess their faith after which they are immersed into the baptismal water three times with the clergy pronouncing the words, "I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In some situations the water may be poured over the head of those seeking baptism while the clergy pronounces the words of Baptism.
After the baptism the newly baptized are dressed in white garments and presented with a candle lighted from the Paschal Candle. They are then confirmed by the priest or bishop who lays hands on their heads, and invokes the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. He then anoints them with the oil called Sacred Chrism. The Mass continues with the newly baptized participating in the general intercessions and in bringing gifts to the altar. At Communion, the newly baptized receives the Eucharist, Christ's Body and Blood, for the first time.
What does the white robe symbolize?
The newly baptized are dressed in a white garment after baptism to symbolize that they are washed clean of sin and that they are called to continue to walk in this newness of life.
What does the candle symbolize?
A small candle is lit from the Easter candle and given to the newly baptized as a reminder to them always to walk as children of the Light and to be the light of Christ to the world.
What does the Sacred Chrism symbolize?
The Sacred Chrism, or oil, is a sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit being given to the newly baptized. It is also a sign of the close link between the mission of Jesus and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who comes to the recipient with the Father in Baptism.
Why was this ancient rite restored?
It was restored in the Church to highlight the fact that the newly baptized are received into a community of faith, which is challenged to realize that they too have become different because of this new life in the community.
Is there a ceremony or preparation for baptized Catholics who never or seldom have practiced the faith?
For Catholics who have been Baptized, Confirmed and made First Communion but then drifted from the faith, the way they return is through the Sacrament of Penance. Catholics who were baptized but never received Confirmation and/or Eucharist can participate in the process of continuing conversion. This process is completed with the reception of the sacraments of confirmation and Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil or during the Easter Season.
What is the role of a godparent for an adult being baptized?
Godparents, also called sponsors, accompany the candidates through the RCIA process. They are called to show the candidates good example of the Christian life, sustain the candidates in moments of hesitancy and anxiety, bear witness, and guide the candidate's progress in the baptismal life.