In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus gave His disciples their Great Commission, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age,” (Matthew 28:19-20). When Jesus gave the disciples this command, He was in turn commanding all of us to do the same. We are called to evangelize others by how we live our own life and bring to them the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of the Catholic Church through our witnesss.
Formerly known as the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved a name change to be truer to the translation from Latin into English. The “Order” of Christian Initiation for Adults is now the official name for the process that those entering the Church may go through, which includes several different “rites”. Four rites are included — catechumens (unbaptized adults), unbaptized infants, baptized non-Catholic Christians, and baptized Catholics in need of Confirmation (and/or Eucharist) for full Christian Initiation. This process was formerly known as “RCIA” and is now called “OCIA”.
The current OCIA team is guided by Deacon Sándor (who serves as spiritual and doctrinal advisor), along with parishioners Ed Smialek, Judith Ashley Mills, Richard Cassar, and Judy Glickstein. The team rotates duties.
Judy Glickstein has served several years. “Our parishioners are the ones who are bringing people into the church,” Judy says. “They are doing the hard work of evangelizing. Our team is actively working to meet them where they are at and lead them on the journey of joining the Church. I see that as being one of the most important missions of the Church and being a part of it is a privilege.”
The team uses many resources, including those from Ascension Press, Word on Fire, and Dynamic Catholic. This last year, the team walked eight people through the rites of entering into the fullness of the Catholic Church. They usually meet twice a month starting in October. The catechumens and candidates typically receive their sacraments during the Easter season, usually at the Easter Vigil Mass or shortly thereafter. Once they have received their sacraments, they are referred to as “neophytes.”
“After Easter, the neophytes continue to meet with us for what Deacon Sándor considers one of the most important parts of our program — mystagogy,” Judy says. “During this time, we work to deepen their understanding and the practice of the sacraments. They are now an established member of the Church, but now what? We go into the Acts of the Apostles and also let them take the lead on what things they want to learn more about. We really use this time to encourage them to become active members of the Church as well. We have over 50 active ministries at our parish so we encourage them to find somewhere that the Holy Spirit is leading them to get involved.”
The Catholic Church is a deep treasure of history, Tradition, and Truth. It is a lifelong process to continue learning, deepening our faith, and growing closer in relationship with God.
“When our candidates and catechumens come to us, there is a broad spectrum of where they are in their faith and what they know,” Judy says. “Some people have been researching and learning about the Catholic faith for years before they come to us. Others are joining us earlier in their process. It doesn’t matter where someone is at, as long as they have a desire to learn more and seek the Truth. You don’t have to know everything in order to become Catholic. It is a lifelong process. It can be intimidating, but we are here to help walk them through the process.”
It is the same thing for those who are a part of the OCIA team — you don’t have to know every single thing about the faith in order to be a part of this ministry. You learn, grow, and look for answers to the questions that you don’t know. All that is needed is a genuine desire to help bring others into the fullness of the Church.
“We encourage anyone who feels called to share what they have learned in their faith lives to join us,” Judy says. “We need witnesses to God’s goodness and love. It is a chance to share what you know, what you have lived, and what you have learned from God.”
To get involved or for those desiring to learn more about the Catholic Church, contact Judy Glickstein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808-222-5535.