Over 200 participants from all parts of the diocese, despite the pouring rain, arrived at the first Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Conference of 2016, at the Immaculate Conception Pastoral Center, Douglaston, Oct. 22.
Those attending received an overview of the new diocesan guidelines as well as information on issues important to the RCIA process. Among the topics on the agenda for the day included: increase the time recommended for the Period Two Catechumenate to provide for a longer period of faith formation; increase RCIA parish team membership or establish a parish RCIA team; provide a recommended calendar and RCIA curriculum; offer spiritual formation opportunities for RCIA coordinators and their parish teams.
The day began with prayer led by Father Joseph Gibino, pastor of Holy Trinity parish, Whitestone, followed by an overview of the new guidelines.
Participants were introduced to Joann Roa, the new diocesan coordinator for RCIA, RCIA adapted for children and catechetical programs, who gave a concise summary of the recommended changes.
Father Gibino served both as the keynote speaker and the workshop presenter on the Spirituality of the RCIA team.
Msgr. Steven J. Aguggia, diocesan Judicial Vicar, offered practical advice when dealing with canonical issues surrounding the RCIA process.
With a little humor and much wisdom he told the participants to make sure they ask candidates two important questions: 1) Has the individual ever been married? 2) Has the individual ever been baptized? These questions are crucial in the discernment process of helping those interested in the Catholic faith to achieve full communion with the Catholic Church.
Juan Perez, director of religious education for St. Pancras parish, Glendale, presented on the Spirituality of the RCIA in Spanish to about 90 participants in College Hall.
Perez encouraged the participants to write down two vital aspects of being an RCIA team:
• An RCIA team should be praying together often, for prayer and sacrifice are the best gifts we can offer to God.
• A good leader does not work alone, but rather in collaboration with others.
Perez posed this question for reflection: “How am I serving God? Am I waiting for others do what needs to be done or am I doing it?”
Conference attendees expressed their appreciation for the day; some expressed how informative it was while others shared that they are looking forward to the next workshop which will be held in early February.