Case Studies on the Year-Round Catechumenate

Jack, Jill, David, and Martha want to become Catholic. David and Martha have never been baptized, but Jack and Jill come from a Protestant background. Jill is married to her third husband. Jack is married to a Catholic woman, and neither were ever married before. David used to be married but is now divorced and single, and Martha is single, never married.

Martha and Jill each call the Church in May to ask how to become Catholic. They are invited to attend the Inquiry group the following Wednesday evening. The Inquiry facilitator (Facilitator A) uses the nifty interview sheet that was handed out at the RCIA Workshop on May 1, 2004, and collects important information from them. She immediately informs the Pastor of Jill's marriage situation. Jill is immediately put in touch with the Marriage Tribunal, and work begins on the investigation of her marriages. Both of them have many questions and they attend the Inquiry group regularly, until mid-October, which is when the Rite of Acceptance/Welcome is scheduled to take place.  

The Marriage Tribunal informs Jill that she cannot go to the Rite of Welcome just yet, because the work is not yet completed on her marriages: however, things are looking hopeful. Jill does not need to drop out of RCIA, however, because the Inquiry group will still be meeting regularly. Martha goes to the Rite of Acceptance at Mass that Sunday, and moves into the next period, the Catechumenate. The following Wednesday, she meets her new teacher (Facilitator B) and they meet together in a different room, on the same evening as the Inquiry group. Facilitator A, Facilitator B, and Jill and Martha meet together in a common room to welcome each other and pray together before moving off to their separate rooms.

The following week, David finally gets his courage up and calls the Church to see how to become Catholic. He is invited to attend the Inquiry group the following Wednesday. That day in Inquiry, Jill helps David learn how to use the Catechism, and David shares his spiritual journey. Facilitator A used the nifty interview sheet and finds out important information about David. She immediately informs the Pastor that David used to be married, but is now single. The Pastor then interviews David privately, and David chooses to seek a declaration of nullity for his previous marriage. 

The following April, both David and Jill, whose declarations of nullity have been granted, go to the Rite of Acceptance, and the Rite of Welcome, at a Sunday Mass. The following Wednesday, they join Martha in the Catechumenate. Because they are using Lectionary-based catechesis, however, Facilitator B does not have to start trying to teach to two different levels of experience. Rather, by using the Lectionary, she can bring out points of doctrine and Catholic practice as they occur in the Scripture readings. Because David and Jill have built up a solid conceptual foundation already in the Inquiry group,  through asking whatever questions occurred to them, and having things thoroughly explained to them, they can easily and naturally comprehend the concepts being taught in the Catechumenate, without worrying about what order they are being taught in. Martha shows them her Missal and her Bible, and teaches them how to find the passages from the Lectionary in their Bibles.

By the following September, Martha, who has perfect attendance, has heard every concept at least once. It will be the following April before David and Jill can say the same. Because there is no one in the Inquiry group at that time, Facilitator A comes and visits the Catechumenate room each week. She still opens her room and creates a welcoming environment. A couple of weeks later, Jack shows up because a friend of his told him that the Inquiry group meets every Wednesday. Facilitator A takes Jack to the Inquiry room and fills out the nifty interview sheet. Jack, an active Protestant all of his life, has been reading Scott Hahn books and memorizing the Catechism, and so, because there is a Rite of Welcome scheduled two weeks from that time, the Facilitator informs the Pastor that Jack is ready for the Catechumenate. He and the Facilitator have some good conversations in the Inquiry room those two weeks, and then, after receiving the Rite of Welcome on the scheduled Sunday at Mass, he moves into the Catechumenate room. Once again, because there are no Inquirers, Facilitator A helps out with the Catechumenate group, which now has four members. She still sets up the Inquiry room in a welcoming way, however, and she's ready for Sally and Davina, who begin the Inquiry process the following week.

Jack, Jill, David, and Martha journey together in the Catechumenate until the following Ash Wednesday, which is Martha's last day in the Catechumenate. That Saturday evening, she is presented to the Bishop with her sponsor, and becomes a member of the Elect. The following Wednesday, Facilitator C comes, and opens the third classroom, and he and Martha do a spiritual Retreat together, on the topic of Purification and Enlightenment. He reminds Martha to put all of her books away now, and focus on translating her now-considerable head-knowledge into heart-knowledge. She works with him on this until Easter, when she is received into the Church, and then returns to that same classroom during the weeks following Easter, right up until Pentecost, at which time, she has finally completed RCIA. She has now been a member of the Parish for one year and ten months, even though she's only been officially Catholic for a very few weeks. Her family has already gotten used to the idea of her getting up early on Sunday mornings to go to Mass. Although at first, it was hard for her, she now finds that she can wake up on Sunday morning without even needing an alarm clock. Her cat no longer cries at the door when she leaves for Mass. She knows where she likes to sit at Mass, what time she has to arrive in order to get "her" seat, and has gotten to know many of the regulars who attend Mass at the same time as her.  The person who sits in the pew behind her is throwing a "Baptism barbecue" for her as soon as the snow melts, and she's thinking of dating the nice young man who sits across the aisle from her, and always asks her out for coffee after Mass.  

David, Jill, and Jack attend Martha's reception, and look forward to being received into the Church the following Easter. Sally and Davina have just finished their Inquiry process, and receive the Rite of Acceptance in May.

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