Take a journey and find community

By The Beacon | February 9, 2011 9:00pm

(Photo submitted by Vinci Halbrook Paterson)

By Sarah Moran, Guest Commentary -- moran12@up.edu

RCIA. Who could imagine that four simple, seemingly meaningless letters could signify so much? RCIA is the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, a complicated name for the process of becoming a Roman Catholic. It is designed for those who have either not been baptized, or have been baptized but have yet to receive First Communion in the Catholic Church. And really, I cannot think of a better word for what RCIA is: Communion. It is the preparation to receive the Eucharist but it is also about the community that develops within the RCIA group and the UP Catholic community.

My decision to go through RCIA while at UP was heavily influenced by the community here. Not only are the Holy Cross priests absolutely wonderful, but the student community is also very welcoming and open. Yet even more influential than the priests and the already present Catholic community is the community created within the RCIA group. A small group of people meeting week after week, attending days of prayer, and retreats together, has the potential to become a truly supportive spiritual community. It was during my RCIA journey that I met some of my closest Catholic friends: friends who could support me in my faith journey as well as in other aspects of my life. In fact, it is only now, almost a full year after my own baptism, that I am fully realizing the importance of the friendships I made during RCIA.

These are the friends I shared my faith journey with. And that is yet another crucial aspect of RCIA, it is a journey. RCIA is a very open-ended discernment process; a time to grapple with the "big" questions of personal belief. The program is designed to give you the tools and the opportunity to question and discover where you belong and what you believe. This is not a journey made alone either. It is a journey instigated individually, but undertaken as a community with full support given at every step. This is one of my favorite aspects of RCIA, the no-pressure, hands-off approach. Participants are encouraged to progress at their own speed and walk their own journey.

I have had the privilege to watch this year's group of RCIA participants on their own personal journeys. RCIA as a leader is definitely a different experience than that of a participant, but it is equally as gratifying. I get the wonderful opportunity to walk with people on this journey, to be a support, share my personal experiences with them and hear their stories. And if I have learned one thing so far working with this group, it is that RCIA has the power to change lives. It changed my life when I was a participant but it has altered my life even more since my baptism. It created lasting friendships, introduced me to amazing people and bound me closer to the wonderful community we have here at UP.

Sarah Moran is a junior secondary education major. She can be contacted at


Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults

Contact Vinci Halbrook-Paterson at

paterson@up.edu for information

Photo submitted by Vinci Halbrook-Paterson

Sarah Moran (The Beacon)