Children’s Catechumenate in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

Who belongs in the Children’s Catechumenate?

The Christian initiation of un-baptized children of catechetical age is a process based on their personal conversion.  It is adapted to their spiritual progress and growth of faith  rather than on cognitive knowledge.  The criteria for the initiation are based on assessing conversion of heart and action (RCIA #42 and 75).  There is no time-line for initiation.  It could take several years, if necessary.

“The Christian initiation of these children requires both a conversion that is personal and somewhat developed in proportion to their age, and the assistance of the education they need.  The process of initiation must be adapted both to their spiritual progress, that is, to the children’s growth in faith, and to the catechetical instruction they receive.  Accordingly, as with adults, their initiation is to be extended over several years, if need be, before they receive the sacraments.” (RCIA #253)

What does the process look like?

The first step would be to connect with the Coordinator of the RCIA, Rita Pender, who will meet with the child, parents, or guardians.  Your family will need to register with either Our Lady of the Holy Rosary or St. Leo parish if you are not already registered.  Rita will talk with each of the parties.  After this the child will experience the Rite of Acceptance, a ritual where the greater Church welcomes the child into what is called the “catechumenate”...the process of studying the faith and coming to conversion of heart.

 

When are the Sessions?

The family will attend the 4 p.m. Saturday Vigil Holy Mass.  After the Holy Mass, both the child and the parents/guardians will attend an hour-long teaching, sometimes together, sometimes with parents/guardians  and children in separate sessions.  The Roman Catholic Church recognizes that the parents or guardians of a child are the first and primary teachers of the Faith.  Therefore, it is essential that at least one parent or guardian participate in the process with the child.

 

How long will the process take?

Becoming a Roman Catholic is a life-long commitment.  Once a Catholic, a person is considered a catholic unless extreme steps are taken.  That is why the Church takes the initiation of both children and adults so seriously.  The process will last at least a full liturgical year, possibly several years.  Once adequate evidence of conversion is noted, the child will be fully initiated with the Rite of Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Eucharist, usually at the Easter Vigil.

 

What happens once my child is initiated?

One aspect of the church is that of community.  It is important that during the process of initiation your child become involved in the life of the church with his or her peers.  Once your child is fully initiated, he or she will be placed in youth faith formation appropriate to his or her age and understanding.  Being  a Roman Catholic requires us to continue our study of the faith, even into and through adulthood.  That is why it is so important that you come as a family with your child.  Being initiated means becoming one of the family, and one does not “age-out” of family life.

 

We welcome you!

If you have more questions regarding faith instruction and initiation for you and your child, please contact Rita Pender at 603-332-1863 or rpender@hrsl.org.