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RCIA Dismay Print E-mail
By Randall Smith   
Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A friend’s father called the other day and announced that, after many years of staying away from the Church, he was finally going to seek instruction in the Catholic faith. It was a moment of tremendous joy for his daughter. And yet the next moment is always the hardest: Where will he get instruction? To whom can we safely send him? Where can an intelligent adult in America today go to get instruction in the faith that won’t send him running away screaming from the Church in agony?

This is a terrible question to have to ask, but it comes up nearly every time one hears about someone who has decided to come into the Church. Great! But uh-oh, they’ll first have to “get through” the miserable gauntlet of RCIA classes, in which they’ll likely learn next-to-nothing about the Catholic faith, or at least nothing they don’t already know and know in a more adult fashion than they’re likely to have it presented to them. One often hopes for them merely that they can “weather the storm.”

I suppose it’s true that if they’re not tough enough to bear up under the annoying obstacles thrown in their way by most RCIA programs, then perhaps they’re not ready for the kind of martyrdom the Catholic faith requires in contemporary American culture. But if we were going to put deliberate obstacles in the way of people converting to test their resolve, I wish those obstacles had at least something to do with the kind of serious existential decision involved in becoming Catholic, and weren’t the kind of obstacles that arise when people make the Catholic faith seem like something for eight-year olds or left-over hippies from the seventies.

I can remember very distinctly when I was in high school, and not at all Catholic. I had a number of friends who were “Christian.” I liked them. Now and again, I would go with them to their “youth ministry” get-togethers, and I thought: “This is all very interesting.  Not for me, of course, but pleasant enough I guess – if you like waterfalls, guitar music and all that.”  I never particularly liked sitting around a campfire singing guitar music, nor am I a big fan of s’mores, so quite naturally I assumed: “I’m just not very religious.”  “Religion is okay for these people,” I thought; “it’s just not for me.” 

It wasn’t until later in my life, when I started to read the works of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, that I started to realize: “Hey, this Catholicism; they’ve got some people who can think.  Maybe there’s something to this.”  Then I had the privilege of mixing with some people who actually took their Catholic faith seriously – life and death seriously. They were intellectually serious and existentially engaged. It was intoxicating.


          St. Ambrose addressing the young St. Augustine (Tiepolo, c. 1750)

Unfortunately, when it came time to take RCIA, the local parish priest, who was a very nice man, but not altogether on the ball, told my friend Paul (a future priest of the Oratory) and me that, because we were going to be out of town for several weeks during the semester, we would have to wait to enter the Church for another year. We were devastated.

Fortunately, we were able to go to a nearby Dominican priory and get instruction from a Dominican Master of Sacred Theology, the remarkable Fr. Benedict Ashley. He began at the beginning of the Creed with “God the Creator” and worked his way along, item by item, without notes and nearly without pause, except to ask if we had any questions. We had a few, but he had ready answers. It went on for hours. Paul and I were exhausted, overwhelmed, and completely hooked. It still ranks as one of the most impressive intellectual displays I’ve ever been privileged to witness.

My instruction in the faith was dramatically different from the many horror stories I’ve heard since:  “The leader of our RCIA class said we don’t have to accept the Immaculate Conception. Does that sound right to you?”  Or: “Our RCIA teacher told us not to worry about the Church’s teaching on contraception and homosexual marriage, and that soon they’ll be accepting women priests. Is that true?”  No, and no; they’re both wrong. But both stories are all too familiar.   

In too many parishes, “Religious Education” is done by just about anybody in the parish other than a priest, no matter how insignificant their training and no matter how short a time they’ve been Catholic. Why is that? We send young men who want to become priests to four years of training in college-level philosophy and then four more years of training in graduate-level theology. And then, when it comes time to teach people the faith, we call the sweeper in off the streets to raise up the next generation and educate them in the faith. For the most part, the highly trained theologian is nowhere to be seen. St. Augustine, the bishop of Hippo, did the catechism classes himself.  Take a look at his wonderful little book The First Catechetical Instruction, which shows exactly how he did it.

What is the priest doing?  Many important things, but often things for which he has little or no training at all:  Raising money, making up budgets, dealing with committees, paving the parking lot, re-insulating the church building, etc. He’s doing things that are best done by laity trained for those jobs. He’s doing everything but doing catechesis for the next generation of Catholics so as to secure the future of the Church. Am I missing something here, or are we making some rather odd investments of our time and resources?

Please pray for my friend’s father. He seems authentically interested in joining the Catholic Church. The question now is whether his resolve is strong enough to survive the RCIA “ministry” bureaucrats of his local parish.


Randall Smith is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.

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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, September 20, 2011
What seems to me to be lacking in such instruction is, precisely, religion.

‘In the course of the normal development of man’, says Abbé Bremond, ‘there occur moments in which the discursive reason gives place to a higher activity, imperfectly understood and indeed at first disquieting.’ This higher activity—this hidden inhabitant—is intuitive rather than logical in its methods. It knows by communion, not by observation. It cannot give a neat account of its experience: for this experience overflows all categories, defies all explanations, and seems at once self-loss, adventure, and perfected love.

There are two kinds of real knowledge accessible to us. One kind of knowledge is like seeing within a narrow, but sharply focussed area; the other kind is more like bathing in a fathomless ocean, or breathing an intangible and limitless air. It gives contact and certitude, but not understanding: as breathing or bathing give us certitude about the air and the ocean, but no information about their chemical constitution. We commonly call one rational, and the other intuitive; one logical and the other poetic; one doctrinal, the other devotional. But these words merely advertise our ignorance.

Teachers of the Faith, who lack the certainty of first-hand contact with a spiritual reality that is beyond but not against reason are as useless as deaf piano-tuners and as dangerous as blind bus drivers.
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written by debby, September 20, 2011
dear prof.,
this december 10th i will celebrate my 30th b'day in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. that's right--December 10th. it was the day before my 21st b'day. instead of being a candidate in the RCIA program at the Cathedral of my diocese, the Msgr. decided to tutor me himself. it seems my questions about predestination, eternal security doctrines of many protestant sects, proofs of the Immaculate Conception in Scripture, among other held beliefs were way too tough (at least back then) for the instructors, some of whom were deacons. as a result i did not experience the great joy of Easter Vigil or the discipline of having to be in the mix and having to wait; i did not meet the common and the astute together embracing this Faith, etc. Although i believe this all worked out for the good (after all Rom 8:28 is for Catholics and would be Catholics), i felt both "special" and left out. Sure, my questions may have been out of the ordinary. i had been a Bible college student which actually led me to believe the tougher Catholic teachings (i.e., the EUCHARIST!) before i was officially a daughter of the Church, but wouldn't God have also used my 20 yr old concerns and questions to possibly stir up a deeper look at the richness of our faith for the others? isn't the Holy Spirit quite capable of winning the soul for Jesus thru Rome? Yes, he will face some watered tea while yearning for the wine of salvation, but all in God's hands dear prof. don't worry. just pray. and give him your good books to read, your ear, and maybe introduce him to a few very humble souls who may not have letters after their names, but the King of Heaven and Earth lives and reigns in their hearts. profound faith lives therein.
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written by Michael P, September 20, 2011
I am a cradle, 12 yrs of Catholic grade/high school kinda Catholic and I feel as if I do not know my faith. I have reverted once and would love a history, catechism, and scripture (new and OLD testament) class just to give me a good foundation for the faith. Then after that I need fellowship to keep me grounded and understamd how I can apply the faith in everyday life. So even if u get a good RCIA class u are challenged to persevre in the faith and pray that we di not falter (summarized from St Paul)
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written by Alisa, September 20, 2011
I am a Catholic and the new priest of our parish has offered an RCIA class to anyone in the parish that wants to take it. There are 13 of us. Only one is considered not-Catholic. We've only had two classess and I am so HAPPY with it. I am learning.. there are a few catholics that left the church that have come to get instruction from him. I just wish I could have got more people to go.
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written by Titus, September 20, 2011
When I was in college, a good friend of mine, who had been a committed atheist, decided to become a Catholic. I was, of course, delighted, and even more so when she asked me to be her sponsor.

The RCIA classes were held one day a week at the church just down the road from campus. I trekked along with my friend. I was appalled at what I heard.

First there was the sloppy attempts at history. (On the sign of the cross: "well, originally people used one finger, then two, then three, and now most people just use the whole hand," as if it were some sort of Hegelian dialectic at work in the progression of the gesture---not that the story is even true to begin with.) Then there was the smarmy propaganda (e.g., handouts about how the tabernacle really shouldn't be in the middle of the sanctuary). Finally, there was the heresy: "some people deserved to have Christ die for their sins, but most of us don't."

I objected to the heresy. Lo and behold, it turned out there was a little old lady in the parish who had just been longing to be my friend's sponsor! Would I mind if she took over? I'm sorry and thank you for being so understanding!

The RCIA program is a disaster. Full stop.
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written by Tom B, September 20, 2011
I'm a cradle Catholic who, when our parish offered anyone who wanted, the oppurtunity to go through the RCIA instruction, decided to attend. The results from woman with a Masters in Theology was like the horror story's above including we don't need to believe the Euchaarist is literally the body of Christ, and reading a definition of the Eurcharist form a Methodist source and saying that that is the same thing we believe. Also as mentioned above denying the Immaculate Conception as a necessary belief.
It's truly depressing.
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written by Margaret, September 20, 2011
I was blessed to receive my RCIA instruction from a young South African priest in a small lower working class parish. I was awestruck by what the Catholic Church held for me and that feeling is with me to this day. That young priest was transferred from the Diocese as too conservative. He had been drawing people from all over town, from all walks of life into the pews. They were thirsty for the refreshment of the true Catholic Faith in the desert of wimpy Catholicism. I have since moved from that parish, and it is difficult to maintain that feeling of joy at being a Catholic when my parish priest drivels on about what Jesus or St Paul or the Church 'really meant to say.' All one can do is pray.
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written by Chris in Maryland, September 20, 2011
RCIA is all too often a sign that The Church doesn't take itself seriously.

Father Robert Barron (Word-on-Fire) among others, deals with the topic of the dumbing down of the Faith, recounting how his niece attending a top Catholic School in Chicago was getting sophisticated material in every course, except for her Catholicism course, which was on "the coloring-book" level. With junk culture like this, many Catholics are never taught that "Catholicism is smart."

To be smart about the Faith requires serious institutions, and serious work on our part. The curent generations of adults are stuck with overcoming the diluted, dull-witted mush that is often served up at Catholic grammar schools, high schools and colleges.

For a good reading list - go to the lifetime reading plan at Catholic Information Center. Also, check out Barron's web-site, and his new film/media project "Catholicism."

..., Low-rated comment [Show]
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written by Chris in Maryland, September 20, 2011
For a taste of smart Catholicism, read "The Everlasting Man" by Chesterton. Big ideas, in a clear, concise and sweeping narrative.
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written by Other Joe, September 20, 2011
As has been noted by Chesterton and others, Jesus was either deluded (and evil) or he was what he said he was. It is possible to argue either point without internal contradictions in the argument. Any other position is hopeless and ultimately self-liquidating. It's like a luxury car maker coming out with a cheap model to boost sales. The cost cutting is done by leaving out expensive parts and assemblies and substituting generic parts which the major components of the car were not designed for. The cheap car destroys the brand. The luxury car buyer will not pay luxury prices for a brand associated with shoddy products, and the buyer looking for something cheap stays with what has worked in the past. It's called selling down and many in the church have tried to boost attendance by watering the brand. It never works.
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written by Don, September 20, 2011
I converted to Catholicism at age 60. My reading and study had already been extensive prior to RCIA. Our Parish Priest was very involved with our class and we all benefitted from this. There were some very unknowledgeable lay persons involved that did at times detract from the classes.

My overall thought about RCIA however is that there needs to be more structure and rigor.
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written by Immaculatae, September 20, 2011
Thank you for this article. This is a very real problem. It is even worse than having teachers without any knowledge of the faith, who are not living the faith. In some Dioceses, no one may participate in the catechetical teaching without undergoing a training that is sure to destroy or at least damage the faith, a training that is an indoctrination in the very heresies that are rampant in the US today. I worked in a parish office for a few years and received in my email notices of the various 'credit courses" that were offered. Prior to my resignation, I sat in on a course which was to prepare catechists to teach about prayer. The instructor was an 8th grade teacher at the same school attached to this parish. All of the other attendees were already catholic school teachers/and catechists. Not one person complained at the several blatant attacks on the Holy Father, and the Holy Trinity. It was recommended, for example, that prayer to God as mother was an acceptible option... and no one said anything.... Perhaps, given the acceptance of homeschooling, there might be a variable form of catechisis for those coming into the church in whatever diocese/parish whereby their completion of the course has to be accepted in place of the heretical format imposed on anyone who desires the sacraments. I came into the church in 1988, right before the whole RCIA thing really took hold. I have thanked God many times.
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written by Seanachie, September 20, 2011
Randall, your article reminded me of a refrain from a Clancy Brothers song..."all God's creatures have a place in the choir...some sing low, some sing higher...some just clap their hands or paws/pause"...Phil D. (above) has it right...Catholics take different routes and methods of transport on their voyage to Catholicism (even vain thinkers)...RCIA is just but one route (hopefully Magisterium driven and delievered by inspired volunteer lay catechists)...may God's blessings be reflected in catechists' teaching and personal lives/views...importantly too, may catechists be encouraged and supported by the Church Faithful.
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written by Barbara R, September 20, 2011
I became an RCIA catechist 2 years after entering the Church in 2002. It is my great joy to pass on the faith that I now love, using the Catechism, Creeds and Scripture. All the RCIA "material" available is just incredibly bad, and I don't use it.
It is a major challenge to tailor the level of teaching to the variety of catechumens and candidates that make up each group - we often have a wide range of educational background, intellectual capacity and basic information. Further, it is not unusual to have a Baptist who has memorized huge amounts of Scripture sitting beside someone who really didn't know that the Bible had an Old and New Testament. Add the marital and moral problems among them and one can imagine the difficulties. But, we teach the truth as the Church teaches. We do not hedge, or water it down. We allow for "sharing," but we never focus on the emotional aspect of learning and living our faith.
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written by Berta, September 20, 2011
Couldn't agree more.
I'm not blaming RCIA completely (my own pride and obstinacy had a lot to do with it)...but I went through 4 RCIA programs before finally entering the Church. I desperately wanted to have questions answered and issues resolved but it seemed the parish priests were all too busy and the RCIA program was little help. Although all the programs had many well-intentioned people, most of the programs I attended were more concerned about facilitating small group discussion and organizing pizza parties. On the fourth time around, I was blessed to be a part of a RCIA program led by a Dominican priest.
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written by Thomas Sanjurjo, September 20, 2011
I take tremendous issue with this article. The program at our parish is vibrant and wonderful. It is largely run by the volunteers that make up our team. The priest rarely gives the presentation, but that is as it should be. We turn no one down for entrance into the program, and leverage our sponsors as a tool to engage those who can not be at every meeting. We bend to the needs of our prospective parishioners so that they can come into the faith in the best possible time and way. We care deeply about the RCIA process and produce active members of our parish, fully involved and well catechized. The blanket statements in this article and the following commentary are appalling.

Not only is there a problem with the general dismissal of the program, but saying that a person recently called into the faith is no authority is purely opinion. I joined the church as an active and learning Christian, questioning and learning all along the way. There is no reason I should not have joined as a catechist once I became involved in the RCIA team. Though I may be an exception to the rule, this article again blanketed me out of participation.

If you see a program that is floundering in your church, join it, and change it, don't call for its death.
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written by Randall Smith, September 20, 2011
Some comments by the author:

I have not called for "the death" of anything. That implication was read into the article. If a parish has a wonderful RCIA program, God bless them. Given the desire expressed in my article for good catechesis, I could have nothing but the highest praise for them. Thank you, God, for good RCIA programs. We desperately need more of them. And God bless you, good RCIA directors and teachers. I'm sorry you have to do so much and take on so much responsibility, but the work is much and the laborers are few.

Those who have had good RCIA experiences, however, or who have worked as members of the RCIA "team," might wish to consider the many complaints voiced by the other respondents. Bad formation programs are not a universal problem, but they are, let us say, not uncommon.

As for the "many paths" complaint and that some might "run" from Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, two things.

First, those who are seriously interested in the Catholic faith do not run from the best of the saints. They just don't. They may find them dry and difficult to read --- we all do at times --- but they do not run from them. If they do run from the saints, then something else is at work that needs fixing. Let's remember, of all books the Bible is certainly the one that can at times be the most dry and difficult to read. We don't advise avoiding it, do we? (We shouldn't.)

Second, I'm always struck by the complaint that "not everyone likes Aquinas" not only for the reason I suggested above, but because it often comes from people who deny Aquinas to people who want to read him.

It's one thing to say that, "Some people want Aquinas, and some people want coloring book catechism for twelve-year olds, so we have to provide for both," except (A) we're only providing the second and never the first, and (B) I don't really believe that the sort of "soft" preparation being suggested is the way to prepare Catholics to enter into the secular culture of 21st century America.

When people have high levels of secular learning and very low levels of understanding of their faith, in a pinch, people go with what they know, and in the end, they will be dominated by their secular perspectives alone.

I have no problems, ultimately, with joining hands and singing "Kumbaya," as long as the faith isn't mistaken for a "feeling." Christian faith is more akin to an intellectual conviction than an emotional "feeling." It is a conviction inspired by divine charity, and sealed in hope.

Christians in the early Church didn't offer themselves up to be food for lions because they of a "feeling." They were convinced of the truth of something vital: something larger than life, something for which they were willing to give their lives.

Finally, there was wisdom in the early Church about drawing people in gentle stages to ever deeper encounters with the Triune God. New converts tend to say foolish things. I know; I was one. Catechism should be entrusted not to the beginners, but to those who are far along the path of Wisdom.
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written by Louise, September 20, 2011
It's about time that someone wrote on this topic. It is long overdue. Thank you so much, Mr. Smith. The state of the RCIA is, for the most part, abominable. I pray hard for our sons and our friends to come to the love and knowledge of our Lord and the Faith, but then i ask myself, "What will they run into in the RCIA program?, and I shudder.

That said, there is no reason why anyone should lack a thorough indoctrination in the Faith with the number of excellent books on the market today. My goodness, our Holy Father's work, alone, could fill several bookshelves, and I don't think there is any reason to question his orthodoxy.

My husband and I had no real instruction in the Faith in 1971 (no RCIA then). We left 10 years later and returned 21 years after that, still with no formal instruction, but the books kept piling up from the books that I bought from the rack in the vestibule of the church. As for classes, I want to see credentials before I attend--no matter how devout the instructor. It's those Q&A sessions that are so destructive, I think, especially when the instructor has no credentials to back up his "This is the way it is."
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written by Manfred, September 20, 2011
With 17 responses you seem to have hit a nerve, Prof. Smith.
This R.C.I.A. shallowness is deliberate as both apologetics and scholasticism (Thomism) were quietly removed from Catholic training after the Council. Catholicism has become whatever the person subjectively wants it to be. A friend of mine, both a brilliant lawyer and a Biblical scholar, agreed to teach catechetics for school children preparing for Confirmation as his children were entering that age. His class is held in the hall beneath the Church in about one quarter of the hall, the rest being darkened. His preparation includes videos from Ignatius Press as well as handouts of his writings as well as the Fathers. He realized that the parents, instead of just dropping the children off to be picked up later, were actually sitting in the darkened portion of the hall enthralled by what they were seeing/hearing. They never knew the facts he was presenting to their own children. They had never been catechized and they never knew they weren't truly Catholic!
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written by Alicia, September 20, 2011
Gospel Distortion

There is a prevailing notion today that the grace of God is about affirmation, not transformation. Someone said to me, "I go to my church because I get affirmed just as I am." Does the grace of God mean that God simply affirms us in our racist, sexist and self-serving attitudes without being called to change? If God's grace simply affirms us as we are and doesn't change us, then it is cheap grace.

Bonhoeffer says, 'Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ - living and incarnate.'

We are invited to come to God just as we are, but we should not expect to remain just as we are. God's love changes us, God's love takes us and then turns us upside down. God's love sets us free for the service of God. God's grace and love enable us to 'love what God commands and desire what God promises.' The Gospel is about an affirmation which transforms us!

-Source Unknown
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written by Tony, September 20, 2011
I have a stereoscopic vision of the Catholic Church in North America, spending all summer in the diocese of Antigonish, in Nova Scotia. There, Catholic instruction is minimal, soft-heretical, and intellectually vapid. That includes, unfortunately, the training given to a whole generation of priests.

It is absolutely essential that Catholics reclaim the high intellectual ground, first, because our opponents SEEM to be intelligent sorts although they are deeply ignorant, and second, because God created us with minds, to know and to love the truth; and we want the most passionate lovers of truth to be our leaders, intellectual and spiritual.

My reversion to the faith occurred in college when a professor of Renaissance literature kept recommending the work of Saint Augustine. I read the Confessions and was enthralled -- not by the autobiography at first, but by the subtle and penetrating discussions of form and matter, creation and memory, and time and eternity.

You will not drive people away with works of powerful intellect and beauty. You will drive people away -- or, worse, fail to attract them in the first place -- with the slipshod, the silly, and the effete. One might ask how many people have been brought into the church by the powerful writings of our last two popes, and how many people have drifted away because of the lame witness of our foolish bishops.
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written by Heather F, September 21, 2011
I became a Catholic in 2002, and by the time I was finally confirmed (in 2004) I had sampled 3 different RCIA programs, the good, the bad, and the mediocre. By the end I basically considered it an exercise in obedience to endure.
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written by Michael Paterson-Seymour, September 21, 2011
"I have no problems, ultimately, with joining hands and singing "Kumbaya," as long as the faith isn't mistaken for a "feeling." Christian faith is more akin to an intellectual conviction than an emotional "feeling." It is a conviction inspired by divine charity, and sealed in hope."

Indeed, but experience is not feeling and we have excellent and challenging writers, especially now, when good editions of of Tauler and Ruysbroeck; of “The Cloud of Unknowing,” and of Walter Hilton’s works. St Francis de Sale's Introduction to the Devout Life and his Treatise on the Love of God would be a good introduction
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written by Randall, September 22, 2011
I also endured a rather lame RCIA program 6 years ago. Our RCIA director was an ex-nun who moaned that we wouldn't see women priests in our lifetime. She eulogized the feminist Betty Friedan (because of her, all you women in this class can wear pants) but denigrated the late Pope John Paul II as being "like a rock star."
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written by Achilles, September 22, 2011
Phil D, you can not serve two masters. Dante iiad "peace only in God's will" He does not bend to us, we bend to Him. If one wants Truth to bend to himself, the Catholic Church is the wrong place for that, there are 40,001 other choices for that.
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written by Gwenevere, December 16, 2011
Great article. I'm going through RCIA right now and frankly it's boring. I was baptized and confirmed as a Presbyterian, have read the Bible cover to cover many times... and the RCIA class often feels like it's for elementary aged kids who have never heard of Jesus or the Bible before. I know the instructors mean well, and I do otherwise enjoy their company, so I feel bad about complaining. I am pretty familiar with what is orthodox and I don't think there have been any bad doctrines taught. I honestly think I could have gotten everything I needed in a few short weeks, rather than spending a huge chunk of my Sundays doing RCIA (I leave my house at 8am and don't get back until noon!). I concur with what somebody else here said about doing it out of obedience. Once I can take communion I don't think I'll be going back even though they want us to stay on for a few weeks after.
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written by Liz, December 23, 2012
I, myself am a comming home Catholic...who has spent about 30 years in the Episcopal Church....when I told my husband I was going home, he wanted to become a Catholic...he was raised in the Episcopal Church and was always a churchgoer....I, have a very hard time being in this R.C.I.A. process...I am the sponor for my husband....cannot understand WHY they give Communion to a 2nd grader and not a grown man who is a good Christian....it seems we are being talked down to all the time....I do not need to be told to say Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday...this should not even be in the program...seems like people opinions...they do not seem to understand that this process is TOO long.......seems at times we are hanging in by a thread. we have to sit up front in the first three pews....I do think we can think for ourselves.
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written by Brad Miner, December 23, 2012
Dear Liz: I hope you signed up to receive notice of of comments to the column you just commented on, because I want both to sympathize with you and encourage you. Although I became Catholic many years ago, I only received Confirmation about a year ago. As I went through the catechetical process, I was sometimes impatient. But then I recalled the words of Jesus to his cousin, John the Baptist, when John counted himself unworthy to Baptize the Lord: "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
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written by Liz, December 24, 2012
I, have to say we Love the Mass at this church...although we are used to High Church, this does fit us....I am just so very saddened by the treatment that people in this class are getting.....we were told by the Deacon when we had to meet with him that there was ONLY...one boat into the catholic church....from my research I am finding that not to be the case....all people are individual on the journey...this all has been very difficult on us for we all have circumstances in our lives that need to be tended too.....time will tell....I really just want to bail out of the class and go to church....Liz
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written by Liz, January 21, 2013
I, am very happy I found this site...over the last few weeks we have come back here many times...going over the posts...this has helped us to hang in the R.C.I.A. process....we also bought the book, The Everlasting Man and The fulfillment of Desire....we are on track...glad it will come to a End soon...Liz
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written by Rachel, August 13, 2013
This is my 3rd try in RCIA. if God calls, no matter what discouragements come, we must answer! Here is a letter I sent my RCIA director.
I have been considering my past experience when I was in RCIA. I think that I have identified some feelings or beliefs attached to the experience and hope to resolve them before I continue moving forward. My involvement in 2010 was not my first experience with RCIA or St. Louis. Back in 2007 (I believe but may have been 2006) I went to the church and asked for help to become a member then. I was told that I would need to fill out an application that would be sent to me by mail. The person I spoke to did not exude any kindness or love and in fact, seemed almost to despise me coming to ask how I may become Catholic. It never came in the mail. I also never got any follow up from anyone in the program. It felt like I did not matter to the Church. At that same time I was in need of financial aid and someone from the Church actually did come to my apartment, it was an older couple and they were very kind. I felt that they did care!

Time passed by and I forgot the call I had heard from God to return to Him. I forgot the feelings of my experience. In 2010 I do not remember what prompted me but again I began hearing Gods call. And as before, I returned to St. Louis. Of all the churches close to me I have always been drawn to the very one that is far from me! Maybe it was the kindness of the couple that came to see me and helped in a time of need for me that made me feel confident again that maybe this time (2010) the Church would welcome me into it.

But as before, I felt no personal connection to anyone, no spark of care or interest in me the human. No concern for what hell I was living through at that time. The Sponcer who stood with me at my Rite of Acceptance had never even spoken to me before. I never heard from her after that either. Or anyone. I believe that Satan was strongly influencing my life to depress, oppress and distract me from salvation. I could not see it then and now, I wish that someone there would have cared enough to recognize a human in deep need. I was too weak to fight as much as I am now. Even now I have come to you in honesty to say that I need help. I am trapped and cannot come to God’s Grace alone.

Recently something began drawing me to the Church yet again, little by little I started to hear God calling me again. Finally, I reached out to you. Now here I am, carrying sadness and feelings or rejection, lack of worth and anger because of the past. I am fearful that I will experience this again and if I do, how that will affect my ability to hear Gods call. I am confessing this to you so that you know my fragility and why. And so that I can ask forgiveness of you (as part of the Church) and of God for the sin of refusing to forgive what I felt was a trespass until this very point.
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written by Rachel, August 14, 2013
In follow up to my post of the letter I sent to my RCIA director. There was a healing that took place when she responded to my letter. She remembered fine details that even I had forgotten about my previous time in 2010. I knew based on that responce that she, the church, others, DO CARE about us in RCIA. It is not a trial to test rather or not we can bear the boredom or length of time in classes that seem at times pointless. It is a beginning of how we practice communication with God and his Body. With faith, that we do matter and are part of Christs Bride, with Hope, that we will begin to see the fruit and eveidence of our faith, and with Love, that we put our own prides, selfish cries for attention to the side and let Jesus' Love in. In the words of St. Frances of Assissi, " ,..Grant that I not so much seek,...to BE loved, but TO love"

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