Classes to begin in parishes throughout archdiocese
By ROB HERBST
The Catholic Week
Luke Dyas knew he wanted to become Catholic.
Someone else may be less sure, but still wants to inquire about the Catholic faith.
Regardless of where someone is on a faith journey, there’s a spot in a parish Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) program. RCIA classes are set to begin at parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Mobile. RCIA is the months-long program for prospective converts to the Catholic faith which culminates at the Easter Vigil.
“It’s a spectrum,” said Pat Arensberg, Archdiocese of Mobile director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. “It’s sort of like going on a college visit. There are kids on that visit that know they are coming there, they are looking at the dorm room and measuring for curtains. There are others that just want to get a feel for the place. And that’s OK. RCIA is set up for that.”
Luke said he knew he wanted to convert to Catholicism because he wanted to be the spiritual leader of his family. The 35-year-old married a Catholic and they have two children who they’ve raised in the Catholic faith, including an 8-year-old daughter who recently received her First Communion.
Luke also attended Catholic elementary school, high school and college, so he had some Catholic background, but never a strong urge to convert.
“It was probably one of the most defining moments in my life,” Luke said about attending RCIA and becoming Catholic. “It has created such a connection and an even deeper spirituality with my faith. (I wanted to search) for some spiritual understanding and (felt) maybe just that something was missing.”
While he desired to become Catholic, he agreed there was no pressure put in his RCIA classes to become Catholic.
“Not one bit,” said Luke, who attended RCIA at St. Mary Parish in Mobile. “I think it was the leadership of our program who made it very comfortable. There was never any pressure, never an expectation. It was very easy to receive the message, learn and continue to grow in your faith.”
He added: “It was 100 times greater than what I thought I’d get. That really surprised me.”
For every Luke Dyas at RCIA, who had some knowledge of the Catholic faith because of his family and education, there’s someone who knows very little about the faith.
That’s no surprise since that’s what the Catholic Church is made of.
“You might have an evangelical minister who is 65, you might have a 28-year-old agnostic (at RCIA),” Arensberg said. “It’s going to span the gamut, but that’s what the Church is. We all look different and think differently and it’s kind of representative actually.”
Parish RCIA programs generally include classes once a week and while each parish has its own curriculum, all teach the basics of the faith.
Those interested in attending RCIA should contact an area parish.
Those who are already Catholic should be ready, willing and able to support someone considering taking the step to attend RCIA.
“I think that’s important,” Luke said. “Maybe (somebody sees RCIA) as a learning opportunity or maybe just on a whim they decide to give this a try. I think it would be difficult without somebody to support you through all that.”