he Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is the process by which non-Catholic adults are welcomed into the Church, and it is provided in many parishes. This process was originally designed for people who had never been baptised, but nowadays it is very often adapted for baptised Christians who wish to become Catholics. The purpose of the process is to help the individual enquirer to learn and understand the truths of the Catholic faith, and to develop and deepen his or her relationship with God. There are several different stages, each one marked by special rites or religious ceremonies, and besides the enquirers, many people are involved, based in a parish or group of parishes.
The process is not a programme which lasts a set length of time. Some people are ready to become full members of the Church after a few months, but some need longer, to ask questions, to think and pray, and perhaps to make changes in their own life-style. The Church is patient, and asks the enquirers to be patient too. Becoming a Catholic is a very serious step, and it is irrevocable, so it is important that anyone who is considering this step should take as much time as he or she needs.
Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, is the traditional time for people to be baptised or received into the Church and to receive Holy Communion for the first time. However, sometimes other days are chosen, according to individual situations. The Church wishes to make new Catholics feel truly welcome, and not just part of some anonymous or mechanical programme, and so enquirers are encourage to make their own journey of faith at their own pace, with support, help and advice from friendly Catholic priests and lay-people.