Nope. That’s not a typo. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops decided in 2021 that RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) should be more appropriately named OCIA (Order of Christian Initiation for Adults). The USCCB’s decision applies to the process and the ritual book of prayers.
So what’s the story behind the name change, after generations of using RCIA to define the process of welcoming new members into the Catholic Church and Catholic faith? It turns out that there are decades of interesting history behind it.
What’s In A Name?
Sacrosanctum Concilium was implemented during Vatican II which led to the first Latin edition of the Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum (OICA) in 1972, with the first English translation following shortly after in 1974. In 1986, the U.S. bishops published the National Statutes for the Catechumenate that set in motion the 1974 texts being re-translated and rites added for baptized candidates. This eventually led to the 1988 text that Catholic parishes have been using for RCIA.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II introduced the Liturgiam Authenticam, which set guidelines for the translation of ritual books from Latin into other languages. Over time, each of the conferences of Catholic bishops have translated various rites in the Church, and RCIA is the latest to undergo revisions to more closely match the Latin original, Ordo Initiationis Christianae Adultorum (OICA).
Order vs. Rite
Adult faith formation leaders are familiar with guiding candidates and catechumens through each rite, from the ‘Signing of the Book’ to ‘Reconciliation.’ The name change is also intended to better reflect that an “order” is a collection of all the “rites” involved in the process.
The revision will also introduce four new categories: catechumens (unbaptized adults), unbaptized infants, baptized non-Catholic Christians, and baptized Catholics in need of confirmation. In addition, three new terms will also be part of the revision—inquirer, catechumen, and elect—and will identify the stage each candidate is in the process.
Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday Mass are amongst the most significant moments for the Church and for thousands of adults in parishes around the world as they become Catholic, after months (sometimes years) of spiritual growth preparing for the sacraments, such as Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation, to name a few.
Once the Vatican approves the new process and publishes a new ritual book of prayers, Easter Vigil will look a little different. Rites will be adjusted to focus on baptisms received in other Christian denominations, and the new edition will include texts for infant baptisms.
Is Your Parish Prepared For OCIA?
Pushpay is keeping up with the latest changes that are important to the Catholic Church and is using OCIA throughout ParishStaq, our complete suite of church management software, apps, and giving. We make parish life easy for parishes and dioceses onboarding to our platform so you can feel confident that our centralized system reflects this change as they prepare to implement OCIA in their communities.
And if you’re looking for a platform that’s ready for this revision, why not explore ParishStaq and discover digital engagement tools to help you stay connected with individuals who are new to your parish!