The goal of the New Evangelization is to spread the Gospel message – bringing fallen away Catholics back to the faith and introducing new Catholics to the faith for the first time.
But what’s next? For adults, it’s RCIA, of course.
What is RCIA?
RCIA, or the Rite of Christian Initiation of (for) Adults, is the process used to bring Catholics into the faith. It is a catechetical process consisting of basic theological classes and peer mentorship.
We need educated adults.
My concern is that we spend a great deal of time talking about evangelization and not enough about adult catechesis. If we can put that much energy into sharing the faith, we need to spend even more energy on helping to grow and cultivate it.
What makes me feel that way? My personal experience.
Coming into the Catholic faith, I had a lot of questions but found it difficult to find answers.
When I turned to other Catholics, many of them were not catechized well enough themselves, and they offered little help. When I searched for answers online, I was bombarded with information from all directions – unsure of what to believe and what not to believe.
Many will point out all of the wonderful Catholic books on the market. I am an avid reader and found many to be helpful. At the same time, though, many of them were way over my head as a new Catholic, and they led to more questions than answers.
How do we fix this?
It has to begin at the parish level.
While there are a great number of resources online, new Catholics need to find answers closer to home. We need to provide easier avenues for them to find the information they are looking for.
How can you help?
First of all, we need RCIA instructors that can guide their students well. You don’t have to be a theological scholar, just know the basics. If they ask more difficult questions, you can always refer them to a priest.
RCIA candidates and catechumen need sponsors. Being a sponsor goes beyond showing up at the Easter Vigil to lay hands on someone. Sponsors must be a resource before, during, and after Confirmation.
Finally, we need to ensure that the faith formation process continues after Confirmation. The parish needs to ensure that their teaching continues in the Mystagogy stage (the formal period after RCIA).
Our job isn’t done at Confirmation!
The growth and learning for new Catholics does not end at Confirmation; it’s just beginning.
Sponsors need to stay in touch as well. It is during the time after Confirmation that many will fall away again. Keep them engaged. Help guide them down the right path. This may be the most important part of the entire process – and the most overlooked.
I am glad to see so many people on fire for the New Evangelization, but our job is not done there. Once we help people meet Jesus for the first time – or reintroduce Him – we need to help them develop that relationship.
Continue planting the seeds of the New Evangelization, but also stay to help water, cultivate, and watch them grow. Trust me, the flowers are much more beautiful than the seeds.