There are many roads to the Catholic Church, and if you ask any candidate or catechumen their story, it will be unique. For those who have never been baptized or were baptized in another church, the Church has a process to bring them into the fullness of the faith. Our job is to walk with those entering the Church and to offer our prayers, support, and community along their journey.
Tim Bush, our Pastoral Associate, coordinates the process of what was formerly known as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA.
“It’s not a class or a program, it’s more of a process of conversion,” Tim says. “It often follows the same timeline as a school year, but it shouldn’t necessarily fall in that mindset. It’s a process of conversion and helping an individual understand their relationship with Christ and the Church.”
Recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took another look at RCIA and began making some small changes to the way the process works and will rename it the “Order of Christian Initiation of Adults,” in part because the process includes several rites. Everyone who begins the process comes from a unique background and the process can look different for each of them.
“Everybody who knocks on our doors is coming from a different point in life and we try to cater to their needs,” Tim says. “We try to listen and find out where they are coming from. By listening to their story, we can guide them.”
A big part of the process is faith formation and there are several groups that meet weekly at different times throughout the year. But Tim emphasizes that conversion involves more than a class.
“OCIA should really be a community experience because we want the individuals to understand the importance of being part of a community,” Tim says. “Our community should be aware of what is going on because we are welcoming new people in and we need to continue to pray for their conversion.”
Lifelong faith formation and conversion is part of every Catholic’s journey, but watching people go through the process who may not have previously had a faith life is particularly rewarding to Tim.
“Seeing it come to fruition at the Easter Vigil when they get baptized and seeing the joy on their faces after all their work, time and prayer makes it all worthwhile,” Tim says.
Catechists and sponsors play a key role in ensuring that every individual has an experience in OCIA that meets their needs. They form the foundation of community and support that will build as they grow in their faith. Tim enjoys getting to know each person who goes through the process.
“Watching them walk through this faith journey is inspiring and humbling to witness,” he says. “It’s also humbling that I have a great team that will always go the extra mile.”
To learn more about OCIA, or to serve in small or long-term ways, contact Tim Bush at 317-253-2193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.