So far, about 250 of you have filled out the TeamRCIA survey on how you schedule your ongoing RCIA process. We’ll give a detailed report a little later, but for now, I want to let you know that the majority of you are engaging inquirers and catechumens in a conversion process throughout the year, including summertime.
Even so, there are still many parishes that have not yet been able to move from a school-year program to a year-round process. The number-one challenge to moving to a year-round process is a lack of volunteers to lead a process in the summer.
Effective RCIA volunteer recruitment
The first solution is, obviously, recruit more volunteers. I been involved in several parishes over the years, and I have never been in one at which committee members began the meeting by saying, “Thank God we have more volunteers than we know what to do with!” I understand it is difficult to find more help. But difficult is not usually the same as impossible. In every parish I have been in, I have been able to recruit more volunteers. There is no big secret to this. It is simply a matter of collecting “no’s.” In parish A, I might have to collect 10 no’s before I get a yes. In parish B, I might have to collect 20 no’s before I get a yes. In parish C, maybe I only have to collect 5 no’s before I get a yes. But the yes’s are always out there.
Effective ideas for recruiting volunteers
I wrote about some more effective ideas for recruiting volunteers in a brochure titled Recruiting Volunteers: Six Effective Strategies.
If you request a copy before October 25, 2012, I’ll send it to you for free. . Click here to order your copy.
Think of RCIA more like a family and less like a school
More importantly, however, is to shift our mindset about what we are doing. The inquirers and catechumens are joining a family, not signing up for classes. There may be times when your family is busy or on vacation or a bit scattered. But there is never a time when there is no family. If our churches slow down in the summer, there is still church. Our goal should be to involve the inquirers and catechumens in the church that exists at the time. If things are slow, then involve the inquirers and catechumens slowly. If you don’t have a lot of help in the summer, use the help that you do have, to the best of your ability.
At the very least, you are celebrating Sunday Mass every week during the summer. You can invite the inquirers to come to Mass once a month (that’s three times: June, July, August), and follow up each month after Mass with coffee and questions.
You can invite the catechumens to come every week of the summer and dismiss them for a breaking open the word session. Ideally, they would be dismissed after the homily. But if that’s not possible, break open the word with them after Mass. Can’t find enough volunteers for breaking open the word each week? Then ask the catechumens to come to Mass each week, break open the word with them once during each month of the summer, and give them questions to reflect on at home during the weeks you cannot meet with them.
For more on how to catechize during the summer, see this post.
Just do what your parish does and call that “RCIA”
Pope John Paul II wrote that our primary goal as catechists is to bring people into communion and intimacy with Christ. If your parish is growing deeper in faith all year long, then your inquirers and catechumens can as well. You don’t necessarily need a lot of volunteers. You just need to make sure the inquirers and catechumens are present when your parish is encountering Christ.
1 thought on “The secret to year-round RCIA — even if you don’t have enough help”
Ironically, I have been suggesting and promoting the idea of a year round Catechumenate for the last few years here at Queen of Apostles parish, but have not been able to stimulate much acceptance of the idea. So I’ve left the RCIA Team to form an Evangelization Group that initially will invite neophytes as members and hopefully will expand to welcome Inquirers, current RCIA members, and others from the parish to help foster community. We’ll see how it goes! Our pastor has been supportive of the idea.