Lincoln (SNR) - St. Michael Parish in Lincoln will hold summer RCIA classes for those interested in taking instructions to join the Catholic Church, or for those who would like a refresher course in Catholicism.
For many individuals and families, pastor Father Kenneth Borowiak said, the school year “is just too hectic with jobs, children and activities” to commit to a weekly RCIA class.
“A summer RCIA course can provide another option when there may be greater freedom in weekly schedules and more flexibility with family obligations,” he said. “If summer is a good time for you, St. Michael Parish invites you to enroll in its summer RCIA program.”
What is R.C.I.A.?
RCIA, the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is the standard process in many parishes in the United States to instruct and form candidates considering joining the Catholic faith. RCIA is a spiritual development journey. Its formal, yet gradual, structure assists those exploring the Catholic faith to encounter Jesus, to be initiated into the Church and to be formed as His disciples. RCIA is intended for non-baptized persons, practicing Catholics, and anyone in between. For those seeking membership in the Church, full initiation can occur in late August.
Father Eric Clark, assistant pastor at St. Michael, noted that in restoring the ancient Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, the Church asked that the catechumenate for adults be comprised of several distinct steps.
“The rites for these stages are outlined in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA),” he said.
“The beauty of the RCIA program is its flexibility,” he stated. As Vatican II points out, “(RCIA) is intended as a period of suitable instruction and may be sanctified by sacred rites to be celebrated at successive intervals of time.
“While many parishes follow the academic year, instructions and formation in the faith can take place any time,” he added.
St. Michael Parish has been offering summer courses in Catholicism for 10 years. As a seminarian, Father Clark taught RCIA classes during the summer at St. Michael Parish.
Joy Martin, chair of St. Michael’s RCIA program, described some of the advantages of a summer schedule for RCIA.
“People can experience a call to explore the Catholic faith at any point in the year,” Martin said. “By offering a summer RCIA program, we provide an opportunity for inquirers to begin formal seeking and learning right away, without having to wait for a traditional fall start.
“Some inquirers simply desire more time to study, pray, and reflect,” she added. “Instruction in the summer allows them to extend their time in faith formation, catechesis and prayer.”
The core of St. Michael’s RCIA program is an interactive DVD series entitled “Symbolon, The Catholic Faith Explained,” created by the Augustine Institute in Denver.
“Symbolon has provided a rich, relevant, and excellent program of instruction for individuals who seek to join the Church,” Father Borowiak said. “It is also a great tool for evangelization and parish instruction.”
Along with Martin, other active members of the parish participate in the program as teachers and guides with Father Borowiak, Father Clark, and Sister Mildred Busch, O.S.B.
Nick and Krystle Christy recently completed the RCIA program at St. Michael and spoke about the benefits and blessings of the program. They learned about the program late last summer.
“I remember hearing someone after Mass telling their story and experience of RCIA,” Krystle remarked.
“I was ready at this point in my life to” join the RCIA program, Nick said. “I wanted to learn more about the Church . . . it can be overwhelming, but going to RCIA breaks down different aspects of the faith to a level that is easier to understand.”
The Christy family has experienced a number of blessings and graces as a result of their RCIA experience. Nick and Krystle had their marriage validated. Nick was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. Krystle and their two children, Jebin and Sianna, now attend daily Mass at St. Michael.
“During Lent, I thought it would be a great time to begin,” she said. “I took Jebin and Sianna to Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Michael School. Seeing the other children at Mass, I felt I needed to show Jesus to my children more.”
It was actually Jebin and Sianna’s wish to come to daily Mass with their mother, she said. Jebin received his first Communion April 18, and began serving daily Mass at St. Michael the next Monday.
When asked what people should know if they are considering taking RCIA instructions, Krystle said, “for me, it has been lots of learning.
“I learned so much,” she said, “and now I can teach my kids what we learned in RCIA, and they tell me what they learned in CCD. We can learn from each other.”
“You have to make the time,” she added. “I was making excuses when the possibility of RCIA arose. RCIA pointed out to us that we are all sinners. RCIA gave us the tools to know and live a Christ-like life.”
Nick added, “RCIA opened horizons to me about the faith and encourages us to live our faith correctly.”
St. Michael’s summer RCIA program is open to all individuals in Lincoln and surrounding areas who seek a study program about the faith. The class will meet Sundays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. in the activity room at St. Michael Parish, 9101 S. 78th St., beginning May 17 through Aug. 30. No classes will be held May 24 or July 5.
For more information about “Symbolon, the Catholic Faith Explained,” see www.symboloncatholic.org.