Institute to address working with new Catholics

Father Bernie Weir, pastor of St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa, baptizes Miles Musick during Easter Vigil Mass April 11. An institute in July will help pastors, RCIA directors and others to enhance follow-up with new Catholics.

By Anne Marie Amacher

For those who have completed the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) and entered the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil, the journey continues.

Although the new members are fully initiated in the sacraments, the weeks that followed, generally up to Pentecost, were a time to reflect on what just happened. That period of reflection is called mystagogy, explains Gale Francione, local coordinator for an upcoming institute called Focus on Initiation: Mystagogy.

The institute, to be held July 24-25 at St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Davenport, is an opportunity for pastors, RCIA directors and others involved in faith formation to enhance follow-up with their new members.

“We teach catechists how to catechize. We teach lectors how to express the readings better. Here we will teach how to work with the newly initiated Catholics,” she said.


The Diocese of Davenport is sponsoring the institute in partnership with the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Davenport is one of three sites in the United States to host the institute.

Francione said new Catholics need time to reflect on the process they’ve been through, to “figure out what it’s all about.” Through mystagogy, they reflect on the mysteries of faith, their full role in the church and what it means to be disciples.

The newly initiated members “have just had a strong experience. They need to talk about it.”

Two years ago the diocese hosted a Beginnings Plus program, which focused on RCIA and drew faith formation leaders from throughout the United States. “It was fabulous,” Francione said. Participants were asked what topics they would like to see offered in the future. Mystagogy was high on their list.

The mystagogy institute will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 24 with a light social to follow. Included in the presentations that day will be the initiation process, a review of mystagory in various parishes, and a vision for mystagogy. Three meals will be served.

On July 25, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., presentations will be offered on post- baptismal catechesis, strategies for yearlong mystagogy, and catechist preparation, skill-building and resources. Breakfast and lunch will be served.

The institute team includes Linda Licata, who has 20-plus years of experience in the initiation process at the parish and diocesan level. She chairs the Commission on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the Diocese of Charlotte and coordinates adult initiation in her parish. Also on the team is Father Michael Schaab, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. In addition to serving in parish ministry, he has taught theology in Zambia, Ireland and in the United States, including at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.

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