Monday, October 26, 2015

RCIA and Retention Rate

Monday greetings to all.

This past Friday and Saturday, I was privileged to work with the RCIA team at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Sudbury, Massachusetts. We walked through the various steps and stages of the Rite and were able to really "chew" on the many issues that arose.

One of the biggest challenges that parishes face is that moment when they come to the realization that a "one-size-fits-call" programmatic approach to the RCIA simply does not address the real spiritual needs of people. Questions abound. When RCIA team members have used the following words for decades when speaking about initiation, it can be even more challenging: teach, classes, program, finished, lecture.

I have been part of parish's RCIA team when we made the decision to move to a year-round process, welcoming people into the RCIA at any time of the year. It was difficult, at first, but after a few years, we wondered how we ever did it any differently in the past.

Doing the RCIA using a syllabus of topics to cover, with different people teaching the "classes" each week is a snap. Quick. Easy. I am haunted by what I believe is a very, very poor "retention"rate with these programs. And I find generally that RCIA ministers are fearful of that issue and will not ask the tough questions. How about you and your parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Team RCIA said...

Hi Jerry. A couple of years ago, I went to a workshop on change leadership. One of the speakers was the new director of a small regional art museum. The museum had fallen on hard times and was nearly bankrupt. The new director's job was to turn it around. She said that the attitude of the curators up to that point had been, "There is art hanging on the walls, so we must be meeting our mission."

I think that's similar to how parishes sometimes think about the initiation process. We are putting church teaching up on the wall (via PowerPoint), so we must be meeting our mission. As you point out, that's easier than actually training seekers in the Christian life.

Thanks for the post.