RCIA for children is a family affair
120 members of RCIA teams from northern California have just wrapped up a two-day institute (sponsored by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate and the dioceses of San Jose and Monterey). The institute focused on how to adapt the RCIA for children.
Talking with some of the participants reminded me of something I wrote about in The Way of Faith. It seems to me that many RCIA teams worry far too much about the children and not nearly enough about the parents. What I wrote in my book is this:
I truly believe that when it comes to adapting the rite for children, the biggest adaptation we have to make is to pay more attention to the parents than the kids. On the first encounter, we need to think of the family as inquirers. The decision about the readiness of children to enter the catechumenate will not be based on the child’s individual readiness. We are saying that if the adults, or at least one of the primary caretakers in the family, are not ready, the children are not ready. Just as with adult inquirers, we are not refusing to celebrate the sacraments with the children. We are inviting the family to spend some more time with us, reflecting more deeply on what they really want. We pray that in that process the Spirit will move them to the initial faith needed to celebrate the Rite of Acceptance. (135)
What is your experience? Do you treat the entire family as inquirers? Do you require parents to participate in a catechetical process along with their children? How do you determine readiness for the Rite of Acceptance or the Rite of Election? I’d love to hear your stories.