Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RCIA: Cleveland's Vision and Prophetic Plan

Good Wednesday to you all.

The sun is out here in Cleveland; one of those crisp Autumn days.

Had dinner last night with the bishop and some some diocesan staff. Bishop Lennon is originally from Boston (as am I) and we enjoyed sharing stories and memories.

I want to commend the diocesan staff here, especially Christina Ronzio, the director of the Office of Worship, for their vision and leadership in the RCIA. For many parishes, the rite has become something other than originally intended by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council. In too many places, the RCIA is merely a course in Catholic teaching. While we can never neglect the handing on of the faith, the RCIA is much, much more. Envisioned by the Council as a dynamic process of apprenticeship, the catchumenate is to be squarely planted in the Catholic life as experienced and lived in the Christian community. It does not "belong" to the pastor; nor to the RCIA director; nor even to the "RCIA team." It "belongs" to the entire parish. People coming to Christ for the first time taste and see the Lord's goodness as they experience Christ in the living word, in the living Tradition of the Church, in the Christian community, in the Church's prayer, and in the Church's apostolic witness to the Gospel. So many of these critical aspects of the catechumenate have either been forgotten or simply excised out of the process of Christian initiation. I am quite excited that the Diocese of Cleveland has decided to take nearly three years to re-examine the practice of initiation here and help people get back on the track envisioned by the Second Vatican Council.

Their process here sound like a great idea for a new book on the RCIA, doesn't it? It would be great if they were to able to chronicle the progress of their formation here over the next few years, in the hope of assisting other dioceses and parishes in a re-examination of the process and a re-alignment of the process back to the principles from the Council that are now expressed in the rite itself.

This is very exciting work. I find that people are very genuinely open to listening to ways that the RCIA can be en-livened and, in some cases, re-invented or re-imagined. Moving from a program, with a syllabus-centered approach, to a process that is more dynamic with apprenticeship as the central approach, is not an easy thing to do in practice. "The way we've always done it" is so much easier for people. We need to be listening to the call of the Spirit at this point in the Rite's development and get back to the sources that inspired the RCIA in the first place.

Well, thanks for listening to all of that. Now you know what I will be talking about in two sessions, one this afternoon and one this evening here in the diocese.

I will look forward to reporting on these sessions over the next few days. We did receive word from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship yesterday, regarding the reception of the text of the new translation. More on that tomorrow.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

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