Diana and I have been on an amazing month-long journey through much of Australia. In our time there, we learned (or relearned) several things.
We are on a journey that promises life, but we don’t always see it. We are called, as Abraham and Sarah was, to leave our country for a country the Lord will show us. We leave our existence and go with those who are prepared to walk into the unknown. Journey is written into our spiritual DNA.
These are the insights shared by Fr. Tony Chiera with the participants at the Christian Initiation Australia Network gathering last week in Perth. Fr. Tony, vicar general of the Bunbury diocese and lead keynote speaker, was breaking open for us the conference theme of Journey to the Source. He cited Pope Francis who tells us we have a duty to proclaim Jesus to others and thereby draw them into the journey.
Catholics are often nervous when someone tells them they have a duty to evangelize. However, Fr. Tony pointed out that the first way we evangelize is by the way we appear. Pope Francis says we should appear as people who:
- share joy
- point to the horizon
- and draw others to the banquet
What draws people to us is how we look on the road and who we are becoming on the way.
Fr. Tony went on to say that when a seeker is drawn to us, we seem almost surprised and not quite sure what to do. He said, “Sometimes I see people run to the books. The first thing we should do is kneel down!”
He then listed five things we need to know about the RCIA (that we probably know already).
1. The initiation process is a journey with others
This is a thoroughly ecclesial event. There has to be someone holding us when we go through this.
2. Conversion is at the heart of the journey
It is relationship that causes conversion. When we enter into a life-changing relationship, the world changes color. And each person does this differently in their own way. Do we reverence the uniqueness of how people travel?
3. The conversion journey is an apprenticeship
- We learn by doing
- We learn by doing with others
- We learn by doing with others and reflecting on that experience
The gospel is a way of life, not merely a message.
4. The journey needs the story
Fr. Tony asked, “How do we come to see that God loves us?” We need a story that tells us who and whose we are. As we bring the stories of the Creator, the seeker, and ourselves together, changes start to happen. RCIA leaders have to be story-connectors.
5. The journey has rituals
The only language we understand is the language of flesh and blood. Liturgies and rituals place a felt-image in our consciousness. This is the principle of sacramentality.
As happens with many speakers who have brilliant insights and only a limited amount of time to share their wisdom, Fr. Tony didn’t quite get to everything he wanted to say. However, he did conclude with something a friend of his told him that could apply equally to each of us as well as his presentation:
“We are amazingly graced and radically unfinished.”
I feel that way about our entire journey through Australia. It was an amazingly graced experience. And it somehow feels radically unfinished. I don’t know what the future holds for our Aussie brothers and sisters, just as I don’t know, for us in North America, what will happen tomorrow. But I do know we are on this journey together, telling the story, and drawing others to join us every day. It’s a great place to be. And I can’t wait to find out what happens next.
What about your journey?
Have you been on a journey recently? What stories do you have to share?
4 thoughts on “Journey to the source: Five things you need to know about the RCIA”
Our journey is definitely defined by the seeds of love and mercy we sow along the way. God bless you on all your endeavors.
Fr Tony was SO inspirational during his opening keynote, to me so new on this journey, but it’s good to know that those who have been in Christ since early on in their lives, like you, found it just as inspiring.
Thanks for sharing. It has been great meet you both in Perth, Nick and Dianna.