My wife's Grandma used to bake a delicious sweet bread that everyone loved. Interestingly, however, the recipe was in her head and not on paper. While she had a definite idea for what steps to follow and what ingredients to use, she also knew that making her bread was an act of love, not a science.
When it comes to making Christians, we can learn something from Grandma: yes, there is a recipe—the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults—but making Christians is an act of love, not a science. The RCIA is a process, not a program.
For those of us coordinating the RCIA process in our parish, this means that we have to loosen up on our grip a little bit and make some room for the Holy Spirit, who guides the process. Does this mean starting from scratch every year? Of course not. But by adding a dash of this and a pinch of that to the basic recipe—the Rite itself—we can shape the RCIA experience to meet the needs of our candidates:
1. Begin by familiarizing yourself with the steps and process of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and by looking to the liturgical year (especially the Sunday Scripture readings) to serve as the foundation of our “curriculum.”
2. Take time to get to know your catechumens and candidates so that you can assess their individual needs.
3. Gather and employ a variety of catechetical resources to serve these needs.
4. Identify a variety of people in parish leadership who can share their talents as presenters or guest speakers.
5. Look for opportunities to immerse the catechumens and candidates in the life and ministry of the parish, especially giving service to others.
Baking bread requires us to “jump right in” and shape the ingredients into a delicious work of art. The same can be said of making Christians. So put on your apron, roll up your sleeves, and get ready to join the Holy Spirit in the “kitchen” that we call the RCIA.